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  • Sustainability Report 2023


    Campus Bielefeld University
    Bielefeld University

Greenhouse gas emissions

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Data appendix incl. greenhouse gas balance

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Note: Bielefeld University's greenhouse gas balance may change as a result of its participation in the current "Climate-neutral state administration" project of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy (MWIKE) to create a standardised basis for calculating greenhouse gas emissions.

Key Facts

Bielefeld University reports its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions) in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard, taking into account emissions in Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3. In 2019, Bielefeld University emitted a total of 21,801 tonnes of CO2 equivalents according to the market-based approach (reference: accounting methodology). This corresponds to 0.76 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per university member.

Of the total emissions, around 61 % are attributable to Scope 3, 36 % to Scope 2 and 3 % to Scope 1. The largest sources of emissions are commuting by university members (Scope 3), the purchase of electricity and district heating (Scope 2), business trips (Scope 3) and the stationary combustion of natural gas (Scope 1).

2019 as the reference year

Due to the distortion of emissions-related activities caused by the coronavirus pandemic, 2019 is used as the reference year. In order to nevertheless show a trend, the annex also contains key figures for 2020 and 2021. However, it should be noted that individual figures are missing due to a lack of emission factors and data.

Bielefeld University aims to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality1 by 2035 compared to 2019, provided that the state government is responsible for implementing and financing the necessary infrastructural adjustments. Under this condition, greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 40 % by 2025, 60 % by 2027 and 82 % by 2030 compared to 2019, in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement2. The university has set these targets in its sustainability mission statement.

1 Greenhouse gas neutrality means that the climate-impacting emissions recorded as part of greenhouse gas accounting are avoided and reduced and compensated for by the corresponding absorption elsewhere in order to counteract an increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere ("net zero emissions").

2 At the 21st UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015, the international community committed to limiting global warming to well below 2 °C, if possible to 1.5 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels.

The greenhouse gas balance serves to record the current status of emissions at Bielefeld University. Due to the distortion of emissions-related activities caused by the coronavirus pandemic, 2019 is used as the reference year. Emissions resulting from the rental of building space to the Studierendenwerk [Association for Student Affairs] and Bielefeld University are not included in the greenhouse gas balance.

Bielefeld University's greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for in accordance with the internationally recognised Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) standard. The GHG Protocol divides emissions into three scopes: Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3.

Bielefeld University records all emissions in Scope 1 and Scope 2. Emissions in Scope 3 are determined as comprehensively as possible depending on data availability. Scope 3 will be successively expanded as more data becomes available. The activities listed below are currently being analysed:

"Scope 1" emissions are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, i.e. predominantly emissions that occur within the boundaries of the university.

"Scope 2" emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy. Scope 2 emissions are reported in accordance with the dual reporting principle, i.e. emissions are reported using both the location-based and the market-based approach. The localised approach calculates the emissions from electricity procurement, taking into account the federal electricity mix, so that regional differences are balanced out, thus ensuring better comparability of the figures. The market-based approach calculates the emissions from electricity procurement taking into account the respective electricity supply contract, so that individual final decisions such as the purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources are included in the greenhouse gas balance.

"Scope 3" emissions are all other indirect emissions that arise in the university's value chain. While the GHG Protocol obliges its users to record Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, the recording of Scope 3 emissions is optional.

The following activities are currently being considered:

Bielefeld University considers the following activities: Scope 1: Stationary combustion (natural gas, heating oil), mobile combustion (vehicle fleet: diesel, petrol), volatile gases (refrigerants). Scope 2: Purchase of electricity, purchase of district heating. Scope 3: Commuting (university members), business trips (employees), stays abroad (students: Erasmus+), upstream fuels (natural gas, heating oil), upstream fuels (diesel, petrol), procurement (water) and disposal (wastewater, waste).
Bielefeld University

Note: There is currently no standardised rule or regulation for universities and colleges on accounting for GHG emissions. Differences in the base years, system limits and the application of the accounting standards must therefore be taken into account when comparing with other universities.

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Accounting according to the market-based approach

For Bielefeld University, the market-based approach reflects the relevant amount of GHG emissions (see "Greenhouse gas balance accounting methodology").

Total emissions

Bar chart on GHG emissions from 2019, showing Scope 1, 2 and 3 as well as the total. The market-based and location-based approaches are shown in each case. For Scope 1 and 3, the values of both approaches are identical; only for Scope 2 is the value of the location-based approach more than twice as high as that of the market-based approach. As a result, the value of the location-based approach is also higher in the overall total.
*The GHG savings from feeding PV electricity into the public grid were included in the total. The total is therefore lower than the addition of the GHG emissions in Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 © Bielefeld University

Taking into account the system boundaries, Bielefeld University emitted a total of 31,278 tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2019 according to the location-based approach and 21,801 tonnes of CO2 equivalents according to the market-based approach (see section "Greenhouse gas balance accounting methodology").

The emissions according to the market-based approach are significantly lower, as Bielefeld University already purchased electricity in 2019, 62 % of which came from renewable energy sources. Since 2020, Bielefeld University has purchased electricity from 100 % renewable energy sources. The results according to the market-based approach are shown below as the main variant.

Bar chart of the top 5 emission sources in relation to the market-based approach from 2019. Commuting and business trips, which belong to Scope 3, occupy 1st and 4th place. Electricity and district heating from Scope 2 occupy 2nd and 3rd place and natural gas from Scope 1 occupies last place. The value of 1st place is approx. 25 times the value of 5th place.
Bielefeld University

The figure opposite shows the five largest sources of emissions at the university according to the market-based approach. The complete greenhouse gas balances can be viewed in the appendix.

Emissions by scope

Pie chart on the GHG emissions of the market-based approach from 2019, showing the shares of the three scopes, with Scope 3 responsible for 61 % of GHG emissions, Scope 2 for 36 % and Scope 1 for 3 %.
Bielefeld University

Broken down into the three scopes of the GHG Protocol, the emissions for 2019 are shown in the adjacent figure according to the market-based approach. It is clear that the scopes differ greatly in terms of their share of the overall balance. Scope 1 accounted for a total of 752 tonnes of CO2 equivalents. Scope 2 accounts for 7,840 tonnes of CO2 equivalents. At 13,222 tonnes of CO2 equivalents, Scope 3 accounts for the largest share of total emissions. It should be emphasised here that activities in Scope 3 are partly based on assumptions and rough extrapolations, such as commuting by university staff.

Emissions per university member

As part of the planned update of Bielefeld University's greenhouse gas balance, it is essential to analyse relative key figures in order to be able to present development trends transparently. The emissions per university member take into account the growth of the university in terms of the influx of students, researchers & teaching staff, instructors, lectures and staff in administration and service, as well as the construction and commissioning of new buildings. Bielefeld University will grow over the next few years, particularly in the course of the construction of Campus south. In terms of climate protection, it is therefore essential to track emissions in relation to the number of university members.

In the reference year 2019, emissions per university member amounted to 0.76 tonnes of CO2 equivalents according to the market-based approach. As already mentioned, the years 2020 and 2021 were heavily distorted by the coronavirus pandemic. This affects both energy-related and mobility-related emissions. For example, the commuting sector could not be included in the balance due to the data situation.

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