About 83% of UVM's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from energy to power and heat/cool the campus, making energy efficiency and conservation a priority in UVM's climate action plan. In addition, as a 'large emitter', UVM had to start reporting its GHG emissions from fuels burned on site to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) starting in January of 2010. The Energy Management Office at UVM helps the University come up with new ways to conserve energy on campus.
UVM's emissions are a result of both the fossil fuels burned on campus for heating and cooling as well as purchased electricity. On campus, UVM burns natural gas and some heating oil at its Central Heating Plant (CHP) for heating and cooling its buildings. Most buildings on the main campus are heated via steam from the CHP, with the exception of a few buildings that have their own generators.
To power its buildings on the main campus in Burlington UVM purchases electricity from the Burlington Electric Department (BED). Green Mountain Power (GMP) supplies power to UVM buildings that are located in South Burlington and Colchester. However, BED and GMP buy electricity from the Northeast grid.
Most states have requirements for utilities to purchase a certain percentage from renewable sources. These renewable attributes are traded as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) on the market. This is standard practice to avoid double counting of the renewable attributes of electricity production.
UVM uses the Northeast grid electricity mix emission factor rather than the much lower emission factor from the BED or GMP. Within the Northeast grid the renewable attributes of the electricity are traded separately from the electrons themselves.