The Carbon Roadshow
How might The University of Texas’ greenhouse gas inventory affect its sustainability goals?
The Carbon Roadshow is a Green Fee-funded project that interprets results and implements actions from The Office of Sustainability’s most recent greenhouse gas inventory. By streamlining the report into digestible messages, the Carbon Roadshow builds support for reducing campus’s carbon footprint.
Two previous efforts by The University of Texas provide the base work for the Carbon Roadshow: 1) the FY2012 Greenhouse Gas Inventory and 2) a Future Risks and Strategies for Mitigation study. These two documents are chock full of rigorous analysis, but perhaps not as accessible to the busy UT student or staff member with a casual interest in our institution’s climate footprint. The Roadshow extracts salient messages from the report in order to spread awareness and action among the university community. This work is possible due to a partnership between the CSD, the Office of Sustainability, and the Energy & Water Conservation Program.
Scope of Project
The Carbon Roadshow works to engage campus through three project phases.
The CSD partnered with the MBA+ Leadership Program to investigate the potential for action on reducing greenhouse gases on campus. MBA students analyzed the carbon savings from a number of consumption practices, including bathroom waste, composting, paper printing, and the gamification of energy conservation.
In the Spring of 2016, the Roadshow will focused on building relationships with student sustainability activists as well as with the larger university community. Activities include profiling student sustainability groups and launching a campus-wide greenhouse gas and climate change awareness survey. The Roadshow gave presentations regarding the university's carbon footprint to three groups on campus and reached hundreds of students through in-person and online engagement.
Summer 2016 And Beyond
The final project of the Carbon Roadshow will entailed a full accounting of The School of Architecture’s greenhouse gas footprint. In the calculation of the School of Architecture's footprint, we developed a methods that could be used by other departments and schools across campus. We are currently looking for a partner outside of the School of Architecture to test this method.
Greenhouse Gases and The University of Texas
The University of Texas at Austin has a long history in energy production and research, but has established a commitment to sustainability. President Powers instituted a Sustainability Steering Committee and implemented a Natural Resource Conservation Plan that called for a 20% reduction in energy use from 2009 to 2020. According to the Energy and Water Conservation Program, campus is on target to reach this goal early, and the highly efficient campus power plant has reduced its greenhouse gas output to 1970’s levels.
Importance of Research
Moving technical inventories and reports into action requires messaging, consensus-building, and collaboration. The technical analysis from the MBA+ team combined with the student engagement will set the tone for cooperation across campus to target greenhouse gas emissions stemming from the day-to-day operation of the university. In addition, the establishment of a process for internal department audits will allow this work to continue into the future through the participation of different sectors within the institution.