You Know What They Say About Big, Orange Feet: UT Releases Its Carbon Footprint


The general public townhall meeting regarding the release of this audit will be held tomorrow from 6:30 to 8:00 in the Sanchez Building on the UT Campus.

After a long and grueling wait, UT is finally set to release an audit of its carbon footprint today. UT is having a student only event tonight and is planning a full fledged town hall meeting tomorrow that will be open to the general public. The university plans to announce results and analysis from a carbon audit that was conducted in 2008 and then to open up the floor for questions.

The student event begins at 6:00 p.m. today in Wagner Hall and the town hall meeting is tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. in Sanchez Room 104.


The locations of both Sanchez and Waggener Hall can be seen below:


Sanchez Building


Waggener Hall

UT’s carbon audit was performed by Good Company, which has performed many other similar carbon audits on universities around the country. For the calendar year of 2006, UT emitted a total of 292,434 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This number includes the natural gas burned at the UT power plant, the fossil fuels consumed by UT’s owned fleet of campus vehicles, refrigerant emissions and compost, and the energy purchased from Austin Energy. However, that number does not include solid waste, air travel, student and faculty commute, embodied emissions in purchased goods and services, or water and waste water. If these things are included in the over all carbon calculation the total emission of carbon dioxide equivalent comes out to 475, 671 metric tons for the 2006 calendar year.

Download your own copy of the audit from this website.

It is a good sign that UT agreed to be audited in the first place and this should be seen as a step forward for the great State of Texas. It is about time for Austin to help make their favorite university one of America’s greenest campuses. So come out and show your support for this audit and make your opinions known. It is critical that the UT Administration understands that simply measuring one’s carbon footprint is not enough. UT must take the initiative and begin reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to help lessen the effects of global climate change. UT can and should stand as an example of American environmentalism to people around the world.

Check in for an update after the student-exclusive meeting tonight.


It was a full house this evening in Waggener hall when UT released it’s carbon footprint. The student meeting lasted for more than an hour and a half provided a fairly detailed analysis of UT’s carbon usage. The discussion began broadly discussing overall carbon calculation and reduction efforts in Texas and the United States. This discussion hinged around the fact that while there is currently no economical cost of releasing carbon into the atmosphere, there will be soon. In fact, the company that performed the audit stressed that regulation is coming and that being ahead of the curve is critical especially with a school as large as the UT.

Then, the presentation moved to the more specific “core” elements that make up UT’s carbon footprint. These elements included natural gas consumption, vehicle fuel combustion, accidental release of refrigerants, imported electricity usage, solid waste management, and the emissions produced from goods and services purchased by the university. The single largest contribution to UT’s carbon footprint came from UT’s on campus natural gas plant which accounted for 79.2% of UT’s “core” emissions. (and amounted to a whopping 233, 839 Metric Tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) However, Good Company also stressed the impact students have on UT’s carbon footprint and outlined a variety of steps that students can take to help reduce UT’s carbon emissions.See the chart below for a summary of UT’s carbon footprint:


According to the presentation, UT plans to continue assessing its carbon footprint at least every two years and to begin working on a climate action plan in the near future. However, the university did not specify what this plan will consist of or when it will begin. Good Company stressed that UT students would be involved in future carbon audits and that the university would rely heavily on student research to make future audits more accurate.

This carbon audit is only a starting point for policy changes that must happen in the future and it is up to students, faculty, and the overall Austin community to ensure that UT reduces its carbon footprint in the long run.


The general public townhall meeting regarding the release of this audit will be held tomorrow from 6:30 to 8:00 in the Sanchez Building on the UT Campus.

– Andrew Townsend, Global Warming Intern