As we have now all become accustomed to working and studying from home, research has started looking at various implications of remote work/study. These implications include the impact on our subjective being, but also on the environment. There are speculations that work/study from home may reduce our carbon footprint, for example. This is because commute and/or business travel are no longer required. These two activities have long been recognised as the main drivers of carbon emissions in Universities, alongside on-site energy use and procurement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to compare the carbon intensity of working/studying at home and on campus. That is why Dr Viachaslau Filimonau from the Business School; Dave Archer, Laura Bellamy, Neil Smith, and Richard Wintrip from the Sustainability Team have undertaken a study of the carbon footprint of Bournemouth University during the COVID-19 lockdown. This is the first investigation of its kind and only the third attempt to assess the carbon emissions of UK institutions of higher education.
The study has found that working/studying from home may be less beneficial from the carbon perspective than originally thought. The carbon emissions produced by staff, but particularly students, at home are almost equal to the carbon footprint of commute. The complete closure of University campuses does not result in low carbon emissions.
This has important implications for the future of (higher) education in the UK and beyond. For instance, the study’s findings indicate that the model of blended teaching and learning may have low carbon efficiency and should, therefore, be applied by Universities with caution. This is because institutions of higher education should promote sustainability which involves ‘leading by example’ when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint.
The study has been peer-reviewed and published in Science of the Total Environment, a leading international journal in the field of sustainability and environmental management (impact factor 6.6). The full paper can be found here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720374957. The team aims to advance this project by assessing the carbon footprint of Bournemouth University over the winter period. This is when heating will be put on, thus creating extra carbon emissions on campus but, particularly, at home given that we will continue working/studying remotely in semester two.
I have recently returned from a BU Santander Staff Mobility sponsored trip to Lima (Peru) where I visited Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Peru (PUCP). PUCP is one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious private institutions of higher education in Peru which offers circa 50 undergraduate and over 70 postgraduate degrees with the total student population of around 22,000 (Figure 1). The purpose of the visit was to enhance existing and establish new contacts with Peruvian academics whose interests revolve around the remits of sustainable urban development, food waste management, and poverty alleviation.
As part of my visit, I delivered a series of guest lectures to the student and academic staff communities at PUCP. The content of these lectures was shaped around the topic of food waste management as applied in the context of household consumption, grocery retail, and hospitality. The lectures highlighted the outcome of the case studies that have recently been carried out by academics in the Faculty of Management at BU in the UK sectors of interest. The lectures were well attended and attracted numerous questions given the growing magnitude of food waste generation in Lima which is in part due to inefficient managerial practices adopted by the local hospitality and grocery retail operators alongside irresponsible consumer behaviour.
A research seminar was also organised for members of the CONURB (Urban Development, Governance and Social Housing) research group at PUCP where the issues of urban poverty and food security as applied to the realm of Lima, a large and rapidly growing metro area in Latin America with substantial levels of societal inequality, were discussed. The research seminar was supplemented with a study visit to one of the largest slum areas of Lima. These are usually located on the city slopes (Figure 2), poorly regulated and characterised by the prevalence of severe issues of socio-economic (for example, malnutrition, poor hygiene and limited access to education) and environmental (for instance, restricted water supply) nature. A number of research contacts were made and a number of promising research directions were identified during the visit and it is envisaged that these will be sustained and explored in more detail in the future.
The visit has enhanced research capacity and research reputation of BU in Peru and outlined a number of potential collaborative opportunities to pursue with academics at PUCP / CONURB. Furthermore, the visit has already generated some tangible outcome as a joint application for seed research funding has been submitted to Ecoinvent, a Switzerland-based consultancy which collates environmental impact related data on various industrial and societal processes, both in developed and developing economies, and subsequently approved (total value of the grant is £35,823). Another application for research funding with academics from CONURB has been submitted to Ecoinvent and is currently awaiting a decision.
For more information about this project, please contact Dr Viachaslau Filimonau, Senior Lecturer in Hospitality Management in Faculty of Management, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Figure 1 Figure 2
I have recently returned from a BU Fusion Fund sponsored visit to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) where I attended a series of meetings with tourism, events and transportation science academics working within the Transportation Engineering Program (PET) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). The purpose of the visit was to enhance existing and establish new contacts with Brazilian researchers whose interests rest within the remits of sustainable urban development, tourism and mega-events.
As part of my visit, I delivered a series of guest lectures to the student and broader academic / research communities at UFRJ. The student lectures focussed on the topic of environmental management as applied in the tourism and hospitality context and featured a number of seminal studies developed by colleagues from the Faculty of Management at Bournemouth University. The academic / research community orientated lecture presented the outcome of my recent research project on the carbon footprint of the World Football Cup 2014 in Brazil. Given the geographical proximity of the topic and its relevance to the issue of urban transportation and sustainable tourism development in Rio de Janeiro, the lecture was well perceived by the audience which had found reflection in the substantial number of questions posed and comments made. Due to the identified mutual research interest in improving sustainability of the Olympic Games 2016, Brazilian colleagues took me on an exclusive study trip which provided access to the primary venues of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, including the legendary Maracanã Stadium.
The key outcome of my visit is enhanced collaborative opportunities with Brazilian academics who I am now writing a joint research paper with on the environmental implications of the Olympic Games 2016. It is envisaged that the established contacts will be maintained and harnessed via joint applications for research funding and student exchange projects.
For more information about this project, please contact Dr Viachaslau Filimonau