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Quantification of interlinked environmental footprints on a sustainable university campus: a nexus analysis perspective




Developing a nexus approach to the quantitative analysis of different environmental sectors including energy, water and carbon emissions is important for promoting integrated sustainable management at a community scale. Universities can be considered small communities in themselves, providing access to data at the community scale, as well as contributing to global sustainability through their education, research and the operation of their own estate. In this study, we developed a conceptual nexus analytical framework based on the combination of different environmental footprints to assess how universities, as an example of a small community, interact with the hydrological cycle, energy resources and climate, through their operations and food procurement. Using Keele University in the United Kingdom as an example, the total energy footprint, carbon footprint and water footprint in the 2015/16 academic year was 42,202 MWh, 14,393 tonnes of CO2e and 532,415?m3. Through the quantification of these interlinked environmental footprints, the nexus across water, energy, waste disposal, food procurement, and corresponding carbon emissions at Keele University have been explored. Based on the results of the nexus analysis and identifying the areas of greatest environmental benefit studied, policy suggestions are provided including: implementing energy control systems; maximising the development of wind energy and solar photovoltaic; increasing the availability of vegetable-based options in food procurement decisions; and collecting all of the food waste for anaerobic digestion. The findings serve as a reference for policy-makers and practitioners making decisions on the basis of sustainability in universities and other communities.

Acceptance Date Apr 7, 2019
Publication Date Jul 15, 2019
Journal Applied Energy
Print ISSN 0306-2619
Publisher Elsevier
Pages 65-76
Keywords Environmental impacts, Nexus analysis, Energy footprint, Water footprint, Carbon footprint, Sustainable campus
Publisher URL