Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Reduction Plan


Students develop a greenhouse gas inventory and reduction plan for a business, non-profit, government entity, or other institution by working with the organization to understand their sources of emissions and find practical methods of reducing them. 


  • to provide students practical hands-on experience working with a real organization in order to develop a greenhouse gas inventory and a greenhouse gas reduction plan
  • to learn to adhere to and apply the principles outlined in the Climate Registry’s General Reporting Protocol (GRP) and the WRI/WBCSD’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol (see and ,both of which are industry standards for developing a greenhouse gas inventory
  • to motivate and interest students in greenhouse gas management through engaging them in a project where they can contribute to real life management and reduction of emissions

Class: ENVR E-116 Energy and Carbon in the New Economy

Introduction/Background: In this course, students build the skills necessary for the field of greenhouse gas emissions management: helping institutions and corporations identify and mitigate their contributions to climate change.  Students are required to practically apply what they have learned in the standards by finding a business, local government, non-profit, house of worship, non-governmental organization, or academic institution and working with them to gather the activity data to recognize sources of emissions at the organization. They are also required to interview people at the organization to understand what projects may be feasible for GHG reduction projects at the organization and other relevant information. In some instances, the greenhouse gas inventories and reduction reports became the foundation for the official greenhouse gas inventory and reduction report for the organization.


Before Assignment

  • Detailed instructions were provided on the course website (attached Final Project information). The assignment was also discussed in lecture.
  • Students are required to have read industry standards related to reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The required standards are: GHG Protocol Corporate Standard  and The Climate Registry's General Reporting Protocol (also attached).
  • Students then searched an entity for which they would write a GHG reduction plan. Graduate students were required to use a business, local government, non-profit, house of worship, NGO, or academic institution, whereas undergraduates could use a place of residence if they chose. The organization would need to be willing to provide information on its emissions if they were not publicly available.
  • Students submitted a one page proposal describing what the organization does and what its major sources of emissions are likely to be, as well as how the student intends to get the necessary information for the project. They also submitted a one page annotated bibliography containing 2 to 3 sources. The proposal description is attached.
  • Instructors reviewed the proposals and provided feedback.

During Assignment

  • Students worked with their chosen organization to understand the sources of GHG emissions, opportunities for GHG reduction, and conditions at the organization that might be relevant to the activity (e.g. costs, regulations that the organization is subject to, etc.). Students might review public or private data about the organization and interview employees in order to collect this information.
  • Students then produced a final report containing an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, a GHG reduction target, and a prioritized discussion of GHG reduction strategies at the organization. This is essentially the same report that GHG emissions reduction consultants would produce.
  • Students then created a 5-7 minute presentation on this information for their peers. If students were concerned about sharing the organization’s data, they were permitted to omit the name of the organization.
  • Some students presented this information back to the organization they worked with. Additionally, some organizations used this report as the basis of an official GHG inventory and reduction plan.


Readings on GHG reporting (attached), Descriptions of assignment (attached), Data on emissions that students obtain from various organizations, Student-generated report and PowerPoint presentation

Comments from the Instructor:

  • Banta recommends that students “read the GHG protocol corporate standard first (which is the foundation for most other greenhouse gas inventory standards)”.
  • To ensure success while working with the organization, Banta suggested that students “get buy-in from the highest level of management possible from the organization of study.” As well, students should “ask to speak to a variety of people from within the organization to help uncover sources of greenhouse gas emissions within the organization.”

Submitted by Marlon Banta,  Sustainability and Environmental Management, Harvard Extension School 

final project proposal.pdf261 KB
reporting protocol.pdf2.85 MB
final project information.pdf345 KB
protocol.pdf3.51 MB