Resource: Thesis Explores Institutional Factors
U.S. higher education and global climate change: An exploration of
institutional factors that affect greenhouse gas emissions
Zhaurova, Luba, Master's degree in Urban and Environmental Policy
and Planning at Tufts University, 2008. [Full Text
In this study, I explored the differences between greenhouse gas
emissions of different colleges and universities in the U.S.A. and
analyzed some of the factors that might explain these differences. I
collected and analyzed a non-representative sample of 96 greenhouse
gas emission reports, gross square footage, institutional wealth, and
other characteristics of public and private not-for-profit colleges
and universities. 84% of these institutions were American College and
University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) signatories.
First, I found that both research activity and institutional control
of colleges and universities in my sample were strong predictors of
the institutional greenhouse gas emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) and were
interacting with each other in a complex fashion. Secondly, I found
strong positive correlations between total revenues (institutional
wealth proxy), gross square footage, and greenhouse gas emissions.
A major limitation of this study was greenhouse gas emissions data
accuracy as methodology used to collect and calculate emissions by
colleges and universities is not yet standardized.
Higher education institutions have a unique role as learning
laboratories and potential climate leaders. Further research could be
used to identify and develop case studies from which other
institutions (both academic and non-academic) could learn about
successful strategies used to move toward the carbon neutrality
Keywords: Global climate change; greenhouse gas emissions; higher
education; colleges and universities; institutional wealth; gross
square footage; climate neutrality.
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