Evaluating the environmental impacts of educational land use based on the Ecological Footprint Model, Case study University of Kurdistan

Article Type:
Case Study (دارای رتبه معتبر)

Man’s unsustainable use of environmental resources needs to be tackled from different perspectives and at multiple levels of land use. Ecological Footprint (EF) is a renewable resource accounting tool that assesses the environmental impacts of urban land uses, and measures the impact of human activities on the environment with respect to the underlying issue of sustainable consumption. EF compares the level of consumption with the available amount of biocapacity to demonstrate how human beings are using natural resources faster than they can regenerate them. It was developed originally as an indicator of the environmental impacts of nations, individuals, or human populations or of organizational and corporate environmental performance and even product sustainability. Given this capability, the environmental impact of the University of Kurdistan campus as a major urban land use in the city of Sanandaj, Iran was evaluated in this study using the component-based footprinting method. Actual data on the five environmental indicators of natural gas, electricity, water, food, and waste were collected during the 2014-2015 academic year. The results indicate that the University of Kurdistan ecological footprint index in the above academic year is -0.56. On that basis, the function and performance of the university has been unsustainable with respect to the examined indicators. In addition, the results indicated that the University of Kurdistan ecological footprint is about 16,675 global hectares, which means that an area of land 165 times larger than the university is needed to compensate for the amount of natural resources consumed and the resulting waste. It can therefore be stated that the University of Kurdistan campus exhibits unsustainable performance in the 2014-2015 academic year. Furthermore, the energy (natural gas and electricity) and water indicators show the highest and lowest levels of environmental impacts with 72.03 and 0.97 percent of total ecological footprint, respectively. Therefore, the environmental impact of energy consumption is about 2.5 times that of the other indicators investigated here (water, food, and waste). As suggested in the literature, the most important indicators used in the ecological footprint model at various universities around the world include energy, fuel consumption in transportation, materials, food, water, waste, and paper consumption, among which energy exhibits the highest level of environmental impacts, as suggested by the results obtained for the University of Kurdistan. On that basis, the University of Kurdistan campus ranks second after the University of Algarve campus (Portuguese) in terms of impact on the environment. Therefore, it is necessary to prioritize energy consumption in the university policies and plans for reduction of natural resource consumption. For that purpose, a comprehensive plan should be developed firstly to monitor the environmental impacts of natural resource useand secondly to modify the consumption pattern and thus reduce the impact of the university on the environmental resources.

Motaleate Shahri, Volume:8 Issue: 32, 2019
77 to 88
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