UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Inter-University Sustainability Benchmarking for Canadian Higher Education Institutions: Water, Energy, and Carbon Flows for Technical-Level Decision-Making Alghamdi, Abdulaziz; Haider, Husnain; Hewage, Kasun; Sadiq, Rehan


The education sector is one of the major contributors to the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Canada, i.e., 16% of total emissions among 11 sectors. Canadian higher education institutions (HEIs) consume around 60% of the total energy fed to the educational sector. Existing tools holistically cover a wide array of functions to assess the sustainability of HEIs. The infrastructure (engineered) systems are the pivotal units responsible for the majority of energy and water consumption and may have been built, retrofitted, or replaced at different times using different materials and technologies. Consequently, infrastructures have varying efficiency, designs, building envelopes, and environmental impacts. For technical-level decision making for improving the engineered systems, HEIs need to be benchmarked on the basis of their water, energy, and carbon flows. A methodology is developed for sustainability assessment of 34 Canadian HEIs that are classified into small, medium, and large sizes based on their number of full-time equivalent students (FTE). Energy, water consumption, number of students, and floor area is measured in different units and are, thus, normalized. The study revealed that the energy source was the primary factor affecting the sustainability performance of an institution. The analysis also revealed that small-sized institutions outperformed medium-to-large-sized institutions.

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