Over the summer of 2005, UTM student Chelsea Stewart and U of T St. George student Jennifer Loo worked under the supervision of Assistant Professor Tenley Conway to develop an ecological footprint calculator specific to UTM. For more information on the calculator, please see UTM Calculator.
When computed using the new calculator, UTM's total footprint came out to 7827 ha, or 1.04 ha per campus community member (campus community members refers to the total full-time equivalent number of students, staff, and faculty). Of all the impact categories, energy made up the largest part of the footprint, accounting for 71.65% of the total footprint, followed by transportation at 18.72%, food at 5.61%, materials and waste at 2.61%, built-up land at 1.26%, and lastly, water at 0.21% (see Figure 1 below).
How does UTM compare to other schools?
UTM is not the first university to undertake an EFA. Several other universities and colleges have conducted EFAs of varying scope, with widely different results: UTM's 2004 EFA (using two online calculators) determined UTM's footprint to be in excess of 40,000ha--the methodology and completeness of the data clearly affected the footprint size--consider this when examining Table 1 below. Table 1 summarizes four EFAs, UTM included.
|Name of Institution||Location||Year of EFA||CCMs||Resident students||Categories included||Total footprint (ha)||Per capita footprint (ha)|
|UTM||Ontario, Canada||2005||7509||1023||Materials and waste, energy, food, transportation, water, built-up land||7826||1.04|
|University of Newcastle||Newcastle, Australia||1998-1999||Over 19200||800||Food, energy, transportation, goods, services, built-up land||3592||0.19|
|Holme Lacy College||Herefordshire, UK||2001||534||No data||Energy, transportation (staff only), water, waste, food||296||0.56|
|Colorado College||Colorado, USA||2001||Approx. 2500||No data||Energy, transportation (fleet and grounds vehicles only), food, water, built-up land||5602||2.24|
|University of Redlands||California, USA||1998||2727||No data||Water, waste, energy, transportation||2300||0.85|
The purpose of this comparison is not to determine which institutions are 'better' than others; rather, it gives us an opportunity to 'compare notes' on how the studies were done, how methodologies could be improved, how ecological footprints can be reduced, and, most importantly, what the implications of these footprints are for sustainability at post-secondary institutions.
To view the full report from UTM's 2005 EFA, please see Progress Reports.
The project is being continued in the summer of 2006. Goals for this summer include expanding the calculator to make it more widely applicable; developing a calculator that allows the user to see the footprint reductions that would result from making certain improvements; and calculating the footprints of various emerging energy technologies that are being used on campus. Incorporating the project into related course work is another avenue of research being pursued that would provide undergraduates with an opportunity to conduct research while contributing to a large, on-going and rewarding project.