Carbon footprinting of universities worldwide part II: First quantification of complete embodied impacts of two campuses in Germany and Singapore

  • Universities, as innovation drivers in science and technology worldwide, should attempt to become carbon-neutral institutions and should lead this transformation. Many universities have picked up the challenge and quantified their carbon footprints; however, up-to-date quantification is limited to use-phase emissions. So far, data on embodied impacts of university campus infrastructure are missing, which prevents us from evaluating their life cycle costs. In this paper, we quantify the embodied impacts of two university campuses of very different sizes and climate zones: the Umwelt-Campus Birkenfeld (UCB), Germany, and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. We also quantify the effects of switching to full renewable energy supply on the carbon footprint of a university campus based on the example of UCB. The embodied impacts amount to 13.7 (UCB) and 26.2 (NTU) kg CO2e/m2•y, respectively, equivalent to 59.2% (UCB), and 29.8% (NTU), respectively, of the building lifecycle impacts. As a consequence, embodied impacts can be dominating; thus, they should be quantified and reported. When adding additional use-phase impacts caused by the universities on top of the building lifecycle impacts (e.g., mobility impacts), both institutions happen to exhibit very similar emissions with 124.5–126.3 kg CO2e/m2•y despite their different sizes, structures, and locations. Embodied impacts comprise 11.0–20.8% of the total impacts at the two universities. In conclusion, efficient reduction in university carbon footprints requires a holistic approach, considering all impacts caused on and by a campus including upstream effects.

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Author:Eckard Helmers, Chia Chien Chang, Justin Dauwels
Parent Title (English):Sustainability
Document Type:Article (specialist journals)
Date of OPUS upload:2022/08/31
Date of first Publication:2022/03/24
Publishing University:Hochschule Trier
Release Date:2022/09/05
Tag:Nanyang Technological University; Umwelt-Campus Birkenfeld; building emissions; carbon footprinting; embodied emissions; embodied impacts; global warming potential; greenhouse gas emissions; renewable energy; university carbon footprint; university sustainability; zero emission university
GND Keyword:CO2-Bilanz; Universität; Deutschland; Singapur
Page Number:24
First Page:1
Last Page:24
Departments:FB Umweltplanung/-technik (UCB)
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 62 Ingenieurwissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International