University of Oulu

A carbon neutral campus : tools of carbon footprint and handprint assessment

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Author: Kiehle, Julia1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Environmental Engineering
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.3 MB)
Pages: 142
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : J. Kiehle, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-05-20
Thesis type: Master's thesis (tech)
Tutor: Pongracz, Eva
Kopsakangas-Savolainen, Maria
Reviewer: Pongracz, Eva
Kopsakangas-Savolainen, Maria


The goal of this thesis project was to provide the groundwork for the calculation of the carbon footprint of the University of Oulu and formulate recommendations for best applicable methodologies. The work includes a literature review on the concept of carbon neutrality and its importance in the context of climate change and related international treaties and pledges. This is combined with research on the connection between net zero emissions, carbon footprint and handprint, as well as the most commonly used standards and guidelines for assessing emissions caused by an organisation or a product.

Further, the carbon footprint calculations conducted by 16 higher education institutions were reviewed. This review analysed the categories chosen in the carbon footprint assessment, the standard utilised, the methodology applied, the categories of emissions included, as well as the benefits and limitation identified during the calculation process.

It was found that, while there are existing standards and guidelines for the calculation of organisational carbon footprints, the specific cases presented by universities were not supported by a specifically prepared guideline, leading to a variety of approaches used. The analysis also showed that, depending on the scopes of emissions, it is possible to discern the favoured methodologies. Emissions related to energy consumption, as well as direct emissions, are more often calculated based on activity data and emission factors considered in life-cycle assessment, while indirect emissions related to procurements and the purchase of equipment are often determined using financial information based on the proceedings of input-output analysis. In addition, it was discovered that indirect emissions included vary strongly between the assessed institutions. The most popular categories were business travels, commuting, food, procurement and equipment, as well as emissions related to waste management and the maintenance of the property.

The results presented in this work can be utilised to support the ongoing carbon footprint calculation process of the University of Oulu. The results also help in recognising the differences between various approaches and point out the necessity of creating a common framework for the assessment of emissions of higher education institutions.

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Copyright information: © Julia Kiehle, 2021. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.