The earth’s temperature has increased over the past few decades, leading the earth to warm itself to temperatures not suitable for the health and survival of living organisms, including both human and non-human creatures.
One reason for this increased temperature on earth is the human altered concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) on earth, and organizations around the world have taken measures to minimize the release of GHGs into the atmosphere.
In the process of reducing the release of GHGs, calculating Carbon footprint (CFP) is one of the valuable first steps, as it allows making quantifiable emission reduction.
Carbon footprint is the estimate of the total amount of GHGs emitted during the life cycle of goods & services and the organizational carbon footprint usually includes the total annual GHG emissions. Major Green House Gases (GHG) on earth according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Hydrofluorocarbons, Perfluorocarbons, Sulphur hexafluoride.
In carbon footprint analyses, the above GHGs are classified into one of the following three scopes, largely based on the place (onsite vs offsite) of emissions and the organization’s control over its emissions:
At present, almost all the local organizations, institutes, industries contribute in adding GHGs to the atmosphere. A research project was carried out by the Environment Science Special students with the guidance of Dr. Erandi Lokupitiya, in order to calculate the carbon footprint of Faculty of science of University of Colombo
This article is based on the Calculation of Carbon footprint for the Faculty of Science of the university.
The objectives of the calculation was To estimate the Science Faculty Carbon foot print for the year 2014, To Compare Faculty’s carbon foot print with the already calculated foot prints of other faculties and/or universities, and To propose recommendations to minimize the calculated value of 2014, in the upcoming years (2016, 2017)
The calculation was done based on the guidelines under GHG Protocol (2001) and IPCC (2006) methodology, and the Required data for the calculation included Electricity Consumption Data, Water consumption data, Fuel consumption Data, LPG gas consumption data, Fertilizer consumption, and Solid waste data. The data for the calculation were collected from the respective departments. Electricity Consumption Data were obtained through the payment branch of the university. Water consumption data were collected through the Payment Branch of the university. Fuel consumption Data was obtained in the form of distance travelled from the entry books of relevant departments. .Fertilizer consumption data were provided by the technical officers (Only for plant science department), and solid waste data and food waste data were collected by consulting the canteen staff. Emission factor data were obtained from the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy authority (SLSEA) IPCC (2006) GUIDELINES, DEFRA (2010), and National Water Supply and Drainage Board of Sri Lanka.
The calculated carbon footprint considering different scopes is as follows
The carbon footprint for the faculty of Science;
|Scope||Activity||Quanity||Emission Factor||CFP (kgCO2e/yr)||Subtotal (kgCO2e/yr)|
|Scope 1 – Direct emissions||Transportation (L)||415.6||2.672||1138.74||32199.80|
|L.P. gas kg)||10631.3||1.492||31089.52|
|Scope 2 – Indirect emissions||Electricity (kWh)||837229.95||0.71||594433.26||594433.26|
|Scope 3 – Indirect emissions||Water usage (m3)||27072||0.413||6900.75||227535.82|
|Waste disposal (open dumping) (kg)||17537.62|
|Waste disposal (feed for piggeries)||1113.00|
|Fertilizer (Urea) (kg)||0.5||0.2||0.10|
The CF of the faculty for the base year 2014 = 852 tonCO2e/year
The carbon footprint calculated above is for the entire Faculty of Science, it was compared with the carbon foot print (i.e. 418.5 ton/CO2e/year) of the faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna. The carbon footprint of the Faculty of Science of the University of Colombo is slightly higher, and it cannot be evaluated against the above value for Ruhuna Agricultural Faculty, without considering the number of students concerned. The carbon footprint per student would allow a better comparison. And there might be some uncertainty in the final calculated value due to the following reasons:
Only the major sources of GHGs were selected and some sources were not considered due to practical difficulties (E.g. HFCs emitted by air conditioning systems)
• Though the electricity and water consumption data are accurate, as they were obtained through the Payment Branch of University of Colombo, LPG consumption and fuel consumption calculation included some assumptions because their records had not been well maintained.
• Emission factor for fuel varies with the type of vehicle and the type of fuel (petrol, diesel, gas) but travel information was recorded as the distance traveled, without specifying the vehicle. Therefore emission factor for fuel was considered as 2.672g CO2e/litter. In order to convert distance into fuel volume based on mileage of the vehicle/s was assumed as 11km/1L.
As reducing the GHG emissions can help reduce global warming and a secure planet, The students came up with some recommendations:
• Public awareness about conserving energy.
• Use of maximum benefit of natural light and ventilation.
• Switching off fans and lights in unoccupied rooms.
• Replacing incandescent or florescent bulbs with energy efficient (LED) bulbs.
• Using energy efficient equipment and maintaining all equipment well.
• Repairing equipment in short run.
• Waste segregation
• Implementing a Bio gas unit
• Implementing a rain water harvesting system
• More tree planting and establishing green walkways on campus.
• Proper maintenance of the records of transport and LPG gas use, etc.
• Calculating carbon foot print every year and set targets for each department/individual
If measures are taken to calculate the Carbon foot print of faculty of science of the University of Colombo every year, the university community can pay attention on reducing the Faculty carbon foot print over the years, and contribute to reducing the global warming.
The research was conducted under E.N 3067 course taught by Dr. Erandi Lokupitiya and carried out by the environment science special students ( Charuni Pathmeswaran, Malka Fernando, Madhuka Liyanagamage, Madumi Rasangika, Dilini tharanga, Shymika Shiwanthi, Yasinthi Jayashani, Sumudu Jayakodi, Damithri Jyasekara )
We would like to thank Mr. Jagath Vidanagama, Mr. Sumith Caldera, Mr. J.R.A.C. Jayakody and SAR Payments and General Administration for the support extended to us to carry out this study.