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Sustainability At RIT

Energy and Climate

Energy and Climate

Striving for neutrality by 2030!

On April 22, 2009 President William W. Destler signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and in November 2010, ACUPCC appointed Destler to its Steering Committee. The commitment is a pledge by academic leaders to move their campuses toward more sustainable programs and practices.  As a result of this commitment RIT has begun inventorying its greenhouse gas emissions and has set 2030 as its target date for carbon neutrality as outlined in its Climate Action Plan.  A full text of the Commitment can be found at ACUPCC.

Climate Commitment

As part of this commitment, RIT has agreed to inventory its greenhouse gas emissions every two years and develop an institutional strategic Climate Action Plan (CAP).

GHG Inventory Process

The inventory process requires the collection of historical utility, operational, commuter, normalization and contextual data, for the facilities that will ultimately define the University’s carbon footprint.

The utility and operational data collected include:

  • fossil fuel used to heat the facilities
  • electrical energy used for lighting, cooling, and plug loads
  • fuels used in RIT-owned vehicles
  • fuels used for business and commuter travel
  • HFC, PFC and other sources of greenhouse gas emissions

These sources are assigned to three categories called Scopes — based on the ownership and control over the source of the emissions.

Scope 1

Source is owned or its operation is controlled by RIT
--Natural Gas

--Fleet Fuels
Scope 2

Sources are not owned or operated by RIT, but their products are used in the operation of the University
--Purchased Electricity
Scope 3

Sources are not owned or operated by RIT but may be directly financed otherwise linked to the University
--Business Travel

--Commuter Travel

--Fugitive Emissions

GHG Inventories and CAP

Below are summaries of the 2009 and 2010 GHG inventories. Find RIT’s complete inventories and CAP Report on the ACUPCC Reporting System page. The CAP and Templates of Action are also available for download here. The Templates of Action were developed in order to facilitate the climate action planning process. We have made the templates available to assist other institutions in their planning process.
2009 2010
Scope 1 & 2: 49,641 metric tons of CO2e Scope 1 & 2: 44,791 metric tons of CO2e
Scope 3: 35,996 metric tons of CO2e Scope 3: 30,436 metric tons of CO2e
  Offsets: 2,548 metric tons of CO2e
Net Total: 85,637 metric tons of CO2e Net Total: 72,679 metric tons of CO2e

Status of Commitment

Task Completion Date
ACUPCC Signature April 2009
First GHG Inventory Completed March 2010
Second GHG Inventory Completed August 2011
First CAP Report Completed September 2011
Third GHG Inventory Pending



The majority of RIT’s greenhouse gas emissions result from heating, cooling and electricity usage.  Natural gas is used on campus in a combustion process for heating and cooling.  While there are a few small renewable installations on campus, most of the Institute’s electricity is purchased through an electricity supplier.    

During the 2010-2011 academic year, RIT used 79,511 MWh’s of electricity and 361,363 MMbtu’s of natural gas.  In total, the Institute spends more than $10 million on utilities annually.  

Renewable Energy

15% of the Institute’s purchased electricity is 'Green-E' certified.  Additionally there is a 2.22 kW solar array on College of Applied Science and Technology building and a 12.40 kW array on the University Services Center. 

Conservation on Campus


  •  ‘Floating Holidays’ were added, which allow significant reduction of energy consumption during the Institute’s holiday shutdown.
  • An energy policy was implemented to maintain nationally recognized temperature standards of approximately 68 degrees in the heating season and 75 degrees in the cooling season in Institute classrooms and offices.
  • Several BTU Meters were installed to better understand the thermal profile of buildings and their needs during different times of the year.
  • Electric meters were installed to monitor and understand power usage on campus and control peak demand.
  • Most of the single pane windows on campus have been replaced with thermo-pane insulated windows and better insulated frames.
  • All building roofs have been insulated.
  • The Institute continues to enhance our Building Management System with occupancy sensors, scheduling systems, CO2 sensors and solar sensors allowing us to provide heating and cooling as needed.
  • The Institute continues to support energy studies on buildings and systems. Getting some funding from NYSERDA. The studies provide RIT with a list of Energy Conservation Measures, we can review and prioritize.


  • Incandescent lights and older low efficiency fluorescent lights have been replaced with high efficiency fluorescent lights and light ballasts.
  • Exit lights have been converted to Light-emitting diodes (LED) or compact fluorescents.
  • Campus walkway lighting has been upgraded with high efficiency lights.
  • Daylight harvesting has been implemented in several buildings.
  • Room occupancy sensors have been installed in most buildings to control lighting.
  •  LED lamps are being installed in hallways and large common areas that will cut energy usage in half relative to existing high efficiency fluorescent lamps.
  • LED fixtures for outdoor lighting applications are being installed.
  • Vacancy sensors are being used for lighting control in new buildings.

Heating and Cooling

  • In 2009 RIT completed a major heating and cooling plant renovation, installing two high efficient plants on campus supplying heat and AC to the majority of the buildings. These plants are monitored and RIT continually evaluates the system and buildings for optimal operations.
  • Over 300 Variable Speed Drives have been installed to reduce the electrical consumption of large electric motors.
  • More than 400 electric motors have been replaced with high efficiency electric motors.
  • Traditional V-belts have been replaced with non-slip timing belts in large air handlers to improve fan efficiency.
  • Return air systems have been added on several air handler systems.
  • Inefficient pumps have been replaced with high efficient pumps with variable flow and controls.
  • Pneumatic controls have been replaced with electric controls, allowing RIT to eliminate compressors and increase optimization control.
  • New buildings are connected to the main heating and cooling loops, eliminating additional boiler and chiller systems.  This reduces the amount of building floor space needed and eliminates additional emissions.
  • An energy recovery system has been installed to lower the energy demand of buildings.
  • Fixed volume air flow systems have been converted to variable volume systems, responding to space demands.
  • In the winter months chilled water is provided using outside air, eliminating the need to operate a chiller during those months.
  • A Preventive Maintenance System has been implemented to assure proper care of HVAC equipment.


  • All appliances are Energy Star compliant. Energy Star appliances generally use 20%–30% less electricity than federal regulations mandate.
  • High-efficiency washing machines are used in all laundry rooms. High-efficiency washing machines are more energy efficient and use less water.
  • In apartments and suites, incandescent light bulbs have been replaced with compact fluorescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) uses about 75% less energy and lasts seven to ten times longer than regular incandescent bulbs.
  • In areas requiring 24 hour lighting (common hallways, elevators, etc.), incandescent lighting is being replaced with light-emitting diode (LED) light fixtures.  LED lamps consume less energy than compact fluorescent lights and have a lifespan of 20,000 to 50,000 hours.
  • Occupancy sensors have been installed in laundry rooms, utility and mechanical rooms to shut lights off automatically when the spaces are not in use.
  • A phased schedule for replacement of inefficient boilers, baseboard heating units, and inefficient air conditioning units will take place over the next few years.


Energy and Climate

What You Can Do

RIT is continually working to improve the efficiency of our buildings and energy systems. However, individual choices and behaviors have a significant impact on the amount of energy, electricity in particular, that RIT consumes.  Here are some easy ways for you to help:

  • Turn on lights only when they are needed and consider task lighting in offices rather than using overhead lights.
  • Turn off lights, computers, printers, copiers, and appliances when not in use and remind others to do the same.
  • Disable screen savers – they waste electricity and are no longer necessary for “saving” your computer screen.
  • In rooms with dimmable or multi-level lighting, reduce light levels to the lowest setting for the tasks being performed.
  • Purchase only "Energy-Star Classification" computers, printers, copiers and other appliances.
  • Ensure that windows and exterior doors remain closed during the heating and cooling seasons.
  • Report leaky faucets, "continuous flush" toilets or other maintenance concerns to Facilities Management Services.

For more information about energy conservation and renewable energy visit the resources section of this website.  To learn about energy conservation at home visit NYSERDA’s website.