- Greenhouse gases effects are a leading contributor to climate change; reducing harmful effects of these gases is important for future generations. Worldwide, household consumption makes up seventy-two percent of greenhouse gas emissions, followed by government consumption at ten percent, and investments at eighteen percent (Hertwich, 2009). In order to understand the significance of greenhouse gases, their link to climate change, and the role carbon footprint has on future neutrality goals, this project used literature research and survey techniques to address two objectives: (1) Establish a framework for the adaptation of a carbon footprint calculator to help gauge progress of OSU to its goal of campus neutrality by 2025; (2) Analyze carbon footprint data collected from a small community in Panama as a point of comparison for carbon consumption at OSU. First, I selected a calculator to adapt to OSU needs. Extensive reviews from various sources and a comparison between leading carbon footprint calculators demonstrated commonalities and differences between them. In addition, OSU carbon consumption was analyzed and utilized to create visuals that represented the severity of OSU‘s carbon consumption. In order to analyze the carbon footprint data collected from a small community in Panama a survey was used to collect information on key factors of carbon induced activities such as electricity consumption and transportation. Seventy-five people were surveyed, comprising five percent of local Guadalupe residents.
Through analysis of different carbon footprint calculators, Santa Clara University carbon footprint calculator was chosen as the framework of the calculator used for adaptation for OSU based on their methodology and open access. Carbon consumption data at OSU estimated that emission for fiscal year 2012 was 126,815 tons eCO₂ (CO₂ equivalents) with a population size of 29,129. At 1 atm, this volume of CO₂ is equivalent to a sphere 506 m in diameter or a cube that is 407.8 m on an edge with a volume of 67.8 million m3 (Carbon Visuals, 2013). Comparing this to local Oregon State University landmarks the sphere is equivalent in height to 7 Reser Stadiums stacked on top of one another or 24 OSU Bell Towers, or even 28 MU Buildings. The per capita amount averages to be 4.35 tons of eCO₂ per OSU resident per year.
Analysis using Carbon Footprint Calculator, LTD for the Panama study case indicated that while Panama reached the worldwide objective rate to fight climate change of 2.0 metric tons eCO₂ per person per year; Guadalupe did not meet this goal. Results indicate that the average rate of metric tons of carbon emissions for local residents of Guadalupe was 3.71 metrics tons of eCO₂ per person per year. This was compared to Panama‘s average rate of 1.74 metric tons of eCO₂ per person per year and the objective rate to combat climate change of 2 metric tons of eCO₂ per person per year. Furthermore, this is different from the worldwide average of 4 metric tons of eCO₂ per person per year and the average rate for residents of the United States of 20.4 metric tons of eCO₂ per person per year. Four percent of Guadalupe residents are in the average Panamanian range, five percent are between average consumption for Panamanian resident and the worldwide objective to fight climate change, and fifty-eight percent surpassed the objective but are under the world average, while thirty-three percent are above the average worldwide but are under industrial nation averages. The study showed that although Guadalupe has an average consumption of below 4 metric tons, it does not meet the goal of 2 metric tons of eCO₂ per person per year to combat climate change. However, because Panama overall has reached 1.74 metric tons of eCO₂ per person per year it is on track to combat climate change. Furthermore, this means that for every U.S. resident that consumes eCO₂, they consume 5-fold more eCO₂ per year than a Guadalupe resident. OSU with an average of 4.35 metric tons of eCO₂ per person per year is above worldwide consumption average of 4 metric tons per person per year. This amount may be underestimated due to additional factors that were not included in the calculated amount of eCO₂ emitted by OSU provided by the Office of Sustainability. Factors such as extracurricular activities, population inconsistencies with students off campus, online, and those that participate within less than full time status may all affect the average estimated. Thusly, while OSU may seem only slightly above Guadalupe average consumption it may be far more than projected.
The goal of this study was to create a carbon footprint calculator framework for future use and application on line. This could also benefit the Corvallis population and with additional adjustments it may be beneficial for future researchers and universities for adaptation. This would benefit not only the OSU community, but the overall global population.
- Accompanying presentation entitled: Progress to neutrality: framework adaptation of a CFC designed for Oregon State University population & lessons from a Panamanian case study on CF/ by Kimberly Melendez-Rivera, Frederick Colwell and R. Gonzalez
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