Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Sustainability Director

Brian Blackmon
(865) 215-4430

400 Main St., Room 598
Knoxville, TN 37902

Last item for navigation
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email
The City's Office of Sustainability performs regular monitoring of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from both municipal operations and our community as a whole.  These inventories provide context for how various local activities, like transportation and energy use, emit greenhouse gases that are the leading cause of climate change.  A GHG inventory is a best estimate, and as better data becomes available these datasets are revisited to fine-tune how we measure GHG emissions.  

  Greenhouse gas protocol chart for inventory requirements

Click chart to enlarge
Below you will find materials and reports that give a snapshot of our local emissions. 

If you have general questions about the inventories or about the City's sustainability efforts, please email us (  If you'd like to learn more about greenhouse gases and their impacts on our planet, we highly recommend NASA's Climate Change web portal

About the Inventories
The Office of Sustainability uses a BASIC+ reporting standard (chart at right) for our inventories.  This is a prominent standard in community greenhouse gas reporting.  

Helpful Definitions

Scope 1 - Direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by a reporting entity.  Example: Driving a gasoline car or using a natural gas furnace to heat a building directly emits GHGs because they combust carbon-based fuels.

Scope 2 - Indirect emissions from sources owned or controlled by a reporting entity.  Example: Using grid electricity to turn on a light or charge electronics contributes to indirect emissions because GHGs are emitted during the production of the electricity purchased from the grid - so while your lightbulb doesn't emit GHGs, the power plant that powers the lightbulb does.

Scope 3 - Indirect emissions from the entire value chain of a reporting entity.  Example: When an organization produces waste but disposes of it in a landfill out of the reporting boundary, or when its employees commute to work or travel for conferences, that organization is contributing to indirect

CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) - All greenhouse gases have different 'global warming potential factors' - how much they impact climate.  CO2e is a measurement used to compare different GHGs to one standard unit: carbon dioxide.  CO2e means the number of metric tons of a greenhouse gas with the same global warming potential as one metric ton of carbon dioxide.  For example, methane has a global warming potential factor of 25, so we multiply the amount of methane by 25 to calculate its CO2e.  In the tables below, CO2e is the sum of all measured greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, and N2O) multiplied by their individual global warming potential factors.  For more information on global warming potentials, we recommend EPA's website and FAQ.

2019 Community Scope and Sector Report

The Community inventory measures greenhouse gases emitted across the entire Knoxville territory, and includes government, residential, industry, and other emissions.

SECTOR CO2e - Scope 1 CO2e - Scope 2  CO2e - Scope 3 
Transportation & Mobile Sources 2,528,477  0*  not applicable
Solid Waste 2,206  not applicable  64,585
Water & Wastewater 92,962  not applicable  22,707
Commercial Energy 127,760  670,056  not applicable
Industrial Energy 177,063  337,135  not applicable
Residential Energy 80,610  393,485  not applicable
Process & Fugitive Emissions 11,238  not applicable  not applicable

*Scope 2 transportation emissions (electric cars) are not able to be individually calculated, but is included in the Industrial, Residential, and Commercial reports.

Chart showing community greenhouse gas emissions by scope

2019 Government Scope and Sector Report

The Government inventory only measures greenhouse gases emitted by the City's government.

SECTOR CO2e - Scope 1 CO2e - Scope 2    CO2e - Scope 3
Buildings & Facilities 4,167  17,667  not applicable
Vehicle Fleet 9,592  not applicable  not applicable
Transit Fleet 8,339 *  not applicable  not applicable
Street Lights & Traffic Signals not applicable  7,270  not applicable
Employee Commute not applicable  not applicable  1,571

*Scope 2 transportation emissions (electric cars) are not able to be individually calculated, but is included in the Industrial, Residential, and Commercial reports.

Chart showing 2019 government greenhouse gas emissions

GHG Inventories

The files below are raw outputs of inventory data.  If an inventory is revised for accuracy, there will be a date to note the most recent revision.

2019 Community Inventory [xlsx] 2019 Government Inventory [xlsx]
2015 Community Inventory [xlsx] 2015 Government Inventory [xlsx]
2012 Community Inventory [xlsx] 2012 Government Inventory [xlsx]
2005 Community Inventory [xlsx]
2005 Government Inventory [xlsx]