Climate Action Plan Studies

Straub Hall

The Climate Action Plan calls for several studies to help the UO community and decision-makers understand our options to increase energy efficiency, reduce emissions, and absorb the associated costs. All studies listed below are expected to be complete no later than 2024. We will share the results of these studies and plans to implement their findings on this webpage as they become available.  

Studies

  • HB2020 study – The Oregon Legislature is currently debating a carbon emissions reduction program. Commonly referred to as a "cap and trade” approach, the legislation proposes to reduce statewide emissions from a 1990 baseline by 45% by 2035 and 80% by 2050. Households, organizations, and businesses—large and small—will see higher costs from fossil fuel derived energy and therefore be incentivized to reduce consumption and transition to renewable energy. Companies, utilities, and other organizations that either distribute large amounts of fossil fuels or emit large amounts of greenhouse gases will also be directly regulated by the state of Oregon. These "covered entities" will have to submit emissions inventories to the state, buy permits (called "allowances") equal to their annual emissions, and develop emissions reduction plans. If the bill becomes law, University of Oregon leadership will ask select staff to study it and recommend to the administration whether to volunteer to become a covered entity. 
  • Long-term transition plan away from natural gas to heat campus – University of Oregon currently relies on a district heating system fueled by natural gas. While natural gas is considered one of the cleanest fossil fuels, the heat derived from burning natural gas in our power plant was responsible for over 20,000 MTCDe in 2018. The Utilities and Energy department will lead a review of options to reduce or transition away from fossil fuels to heat campus. The study will also consider the timing of any transition in order to get expected value out of our existing infrastructure investments.  
  • District heating and cooling efficiency improvements – This collection of studies evaluates a range of ideas to improve campus heating and cooling capacity and efficiency. The work will be led by the Utilities and Energy department.
  • Internal carbon pricing – This study will assess the campus community’s willingness-to-pay for on-site emissions reductions and preferences regarding how to collect and allocate revenues. The study is led by Dr. Trudy Cameron and PhD candidate Ryan Walch from the University of Oregon’s Economics Department.
  • Alternative commute options – Commuting by faculty, students, and staff currently accounts for 20% of the University of Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing single-passenger car trips would have a large impact on the university’s carbon footprint. Transportation Services (formerly Department of Parking and Transportation) is currently developing a strategic plan to address programs and customer service over the next five years. This is the first formal strategic plan for Transportation Services, which became a stand-alone department in 2013. The plan will place special focus on creating a department-wide mission and a transportation and parking vision for the university. An evaluation of current services and extensive stakeholder engagement will shape the development of goals and annual performance measures. The strategic plan will guide decision making and serve as a reference for long-range planning activities.
  • Campus-wide LED retrofit – This study will assess cost and appropriate phasing to transition to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. LEDs require significantly less electricity to operate than other lighting technologies. Our electricity is largely sourced from hydropower and, as such, produces few carbon emissions. Therefore this project (and others focused on reducing electricity consumption) will have a relatively small impact on our overall carbon emissions. The study will be led by staff from Campus Planning and Facilities Management.
  • Winter Break turn-down – This study will evaluate opportunities to close some buildings or reduce hours of operation during Winter Break. The study will be led by staff from Campus Planning and Facilities Management.
  • Temperature set point policy – This review will be led by Facilities Services. The purpose is to determine whether University of Oregon can establish and appropriately manage rules governing minimum and maximum room temperatures in campus buildings. A temperature set-point program can reduce the amount of energy needed to control building temperature but must be balanced with occupant comfort.