2015 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Update, Published October 2016
GHG emissions dropped 11 percent in one year and 27 percent from the 2008 peak. When Vanderbilt’s significant growth in square footage, students, patient care, and research dollars is taken into account, GHG emissions have been reduced by almost 35 percent per gross square foot of building space and by 45 percent per research dollar since 2008.
The inventory report captures an important milestone in Vanderbilt’s energy history- 2015 was the first year that Vanderbilt University’s co-generation power plant was fueled entirely by natural gas. The conversion of the power plant began in 2013 and reached a major milestone on November 19, 2014 when the plant burned its last piece of coal! Construction and operational testing continued throughout 2015.
The conversion of the plant has increased its operational efficiency while also contributing to significant environmental benefits. GHG emissions from the power plant have decreased 26% from the plant that burned coal pre-conversion in 2013 to the post-conversion plant fueled entirely by natural gas in 2015. Emissions of hazardous air pollutants have also been reduced significantly as well; hydrogen chloride by 100%, sulfur dioxide by 99%, nitrogen dioxide by 83%, particulates by 74%, and carbon monoxide by 56%. Further gains in emission reductions are expected in future years as the plant settles into maximum operational efficiency.