The Commitment

Rice University is a signatory of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, and has set a target to become carbon neutral as a university by the year 2030.  Rice adopted its first Climate Action Plan in September 2013, with fiscal year 2013 (July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013) serving as the baseline by which to measure progress. 

Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon emissions associated with an individual, business, product, university, etc.  Some aspects of a carbon footprint are easy to calculate from readily available data.  Others require estimates.  

The bulk of Rice’s carbon footprint comes from energy, specifically electricity and natural gas.  Below is a summary of Rice’s carbon footprint, followed by more detail about the calculations.  

Carbon Footprint Feb 24 2022


Scope 1 emissions account for direct emissions from sources owned by Rice.  This includes natural gas combusted on-campus, as well as fuel for university-owned vehicles and equipment.  The fleet vehicles total is an estimate and will be updated in the summer of 2022. 

Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions produced from electricity purchased by Rice.  

Scope 3 emissions, not included above, include other indirect emissions such as university-sponsored air travel, commuting, and emissions from solid waste disposal.  University air travel emissions for 2019 were 4,657 metric tons of CO2e. A more complete inventory of Scope 3 emissions will be published later in 2022, and the specific Scope 3 emissions to be included in the carbon neutral commitment will be articulated at that time. 

An in-depth guide detailing calculations, assumptions, and emissions factors will be published later in 2022.