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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

ENV 312


Environmental Science and Policy


Alex Barron


Carbon accounting, CO2, Scope3, Emissions


Twenty five percent of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not monitored. These emissions, known as the carbon loophole, are comprised of embedded carbon emissions in the supply chain of goods and services that are traded across countries. They escape from all territory-based climate policies, and therefore impede the process of achieving global GHG emission reduction goals. At an institutional scale these embodied emissions are referred to as Scope 3 emissions, including all GHG emitted in the process of producing and delivering a good or service as well as in waste disposal after consumption. Smith College has been a progressive leader in climate mitigation; however, the institution’s current inventory does not cover most Scope 3 emissions, causing an underestimation of the institution’s total carbon footprint and an inability to fully mitigate emissions. By categorizing the types of products purchased we created a sectional dataset and made an estimate of Smith’s Scope 3 emissions using a Economic Input Output Lifecycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) calculator developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). The project has 3 main findings: 1) Scope 3 emissions attribute to approximately 44% of Smith’s annual total emissions. 2) Construction (65%), Travel (19%), and Food (13%) are the three most emissions-intensive Scope 3 categories. 3) More specifically, within the Food category, Beef and Dairy accounts for about 70% of the sector total. Before any further steps can be taken toward emissions mitigation on Smith campus, Smith needs to improve the quality of the estimation by: capturing missing purchasing data from travel and construction as well as working to make the Smith purchasing data and EPA calculator more detailed and compatible. By managing Scope 3 emissions, Smith College can take a leadership role among Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to help close the carbon loophole.


©2018 Cara Dietz


This project report summarizes the semester-long efforts of group members to identify a problem in sustainability; gather background information; collect data through surveys, interviews, or experiments; analyze results, and report findings to the public in an oral presentation. Each member of the group was required to submit a separate written report. This student’s report was selected by the course’s professor to represent the project.

Project group members:

Cara Dietz

Eliana Gevelber

Gray Li