Towards a practical environmental footprint tool
This project will first develop the Integrated Environmental Footprint Tool (IEFT) for campus sustainability management, and we will then use that campus tool in conjunction with individual consumer footprints to explore strategies for reducing the consumer-driven portion of the campus footprints.
The IEFT will be applied specifically to sustainability assessment in institutions of higher education in the US because campuses provide an ideal setting for assessing, studying, and reducing footprints. This campus-level analysis will form the basis for a long-term further development towards general institution, personal, community, regional and country IEFTs. The IEFT will be the first footprint model to bring together the nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus and water footprints. In addition, this will be the first analysis that connects a footprint on a broader scale (in this case, campuses) with individual consumer choices (e.g., food, commuting, energy use). The joint analysis will explore how and to what degree consumer decisions affect campus footprints. To promote broad use of the IEFT, we will develop a user’s guide and user-friendly interface.
To develop the IEFT and make it practical, we will bring together the communities of scientists (e.g., hydrologists, biogeochemists, ecologists) that have developed the carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and water footprint tools. Our team will also include economists, social scientists, psychologists, nutritionists, and others with expertise relevant to other sustainability metrics, big-data and the synthesis of multiple indicators. Additionally, our proposed workshop team will include expertise in integrating human behavior into environmental decision-making and/or integrating scientific knowledge into public policy and governance.