Carbon footprint at institutions of higher education : the case of the University of Oulu
Kiehle, Julia; Kopsakangas-Savolainen, Maria; Hilli, Meeri; Pongrácz, Eva (2022-12-20)
Julia Kiehle, Maria Kopsakangas-Savolainen, Meeri Hilli, Eva Pongrácz, Carbon footprint at institutions of higher education: The case of the University of Oulu, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 329, 2023, 117056, ISSN 0301-4797, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2022.117056
© 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
As an answer to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, organizations are increasingly making efforts to account for their carbon footprint. While general guidelines for carbon footprint calculation exist, they usually do not consider special characteristics of organisations such as institutions of higher education. Case studies can act then as learning tools, and comparisons between applied methodologies can be used to develop best practices. However, a lack of case studies published in peerreviewed journals limits access to the calculation results. This work provides a case study for a Northern European institution to extend the pool of available calculation methodologies tested under real-life conditions. The carbon footprint calculation of the University of Oulu utilises a hybrid model, combining approaches of Environmentally Extended Input-Output Analysis and Life-Cycle Assessment. The focus of the work was to consider included scopes and categories of emissions that represent indirect and non-energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, such as commuting or procurement of research and laboratory equipment. In 2019, the institution’s emission inventory sums up to 19,072 t CO2e, with the highest share due to the use of district heat on campus. Another goal of conducting this research was to show the limitations researchers might encounter when analysing caused emissions on an organisational level, and how the calculated carbon footprint can help to identify the best mitigation measures and possibilities for universities to reach carbon neutrality. It was found that the availability of information and missing strategies for data collection are prominent limiting factors. Favourable mitigation measures include the implementation of energysaving policies and improved policies for procurements.
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