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In Follow-up to Climate Change Statement, APS Conducts Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Publishes Results
By Tawanda W. Johnson
After issuing its Statement on Earth’s Changing Climate, APS has conducted a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory—often referred to as a carbon footprint—of its daily operations. The results were audited by an independent firm and posted online, making APS the first scientific society in the United States to broadly assess and publish its emissions. APS is now exploring ways to reduce the GHG emissions from its day-to-day operations and is evaluating emissions attributable to various activities of the Society, which include APS member travel to and from its national meetings.
"Having issued a statement on Earth’s changing climate, we thought it important for the Society to understand its own carbon footprint," said APS Chief Executive Officer Kate Kirby.
Adapted from epa.gov
The APS greenhouse gas inventory follows established standards: Scope 1 - direct emissions from APS activities; Scope 2 - indirect emissions from purchased energy; Scope 3 - indirect emissions from commuting, business travel, and outsourced activities
The GHG Inventory Advisory Committee, which is overseen by the APS Panel on Public Affairs, has managed the inventory project since last year. Additionally, APS selected Anthesis—a global specialist consultancy skilled in GHG inventory development—to support the committee and assist the Society in determining its inventory. Anthesis was also charged with helping APS develop the tools and institutional knowledge necessary for the Society to continue its own GHG inventory going forward.
The committee used the well established and industry-recognized standards of The Climate Registry (TCR) to develop APS’s GHG inventory. TCR is a nonprofit group of nearly 300 public and private organizations and 60 states and provinces across North America; it designs and operates voluntary and compliance GHG reporting programs globally and assists organizations in measuring, reporting and verifying their GHG inventories.
Following the TCR protocol, the APS GHG emissions were divided into three categories:
Because there are well-defined protocols by TCR for Scopes 1 and 2, the initial analysis included only Scope 1 and 2 emissions, assessing activities at APS headquarters in College Park, MD, the Society’s editorial offices in Ridge, N.Y., and its public affairs office in Washington, D.C. Cameron-Cole, an independent environmental auditing firm and TCR-approved verification body, verified the results from Scopes 1 and 2.
Scope 3 emissions calculations—which have required APS to develop its own methodologies—are ongoing. Preliminary results indicate two Scope 3 emission sources—travel to APS meetings and the Society’s investment portfolio—significantly impact overall APS GHG emissions.
The detailed inventory for Scopes 1 and 2 are posted on the APS website.
In addition to overseeing the APS GHG inventory, the advisory committee has provided the Society recommendations to reduce and/or mitigate its GHG emissions. The committee’s inventory recommendations for Scopes 1 & 2 are:
APS is now exploring avenues to reduce its Scope 1 & 2 emissions, including working with the building managers at its D.C. location to increase energy efficiency. APS plans to present its Scope 3 results and recommended Society actions to APS members during the first quarter of 2018.
"By having its Scopes 1 and 2 emissions independently verified and publicly posted, APS has completed a critical stage of its GHG inventory," said Bill McCurdy, a chemistry professor at the University of California, Davis, who served as chair of the GHG Inventory Advisory Committee. "Not only does APS now have an understanding of the GHG emissions from the Society’s day-to-day operations, but it is establishing a path for like-minded organizations to follow; we hope that they will join us."
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Editor: David Voss
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik