Elizabeth S. Milo1, Elizabeth A. Castner1, Lia R.Cattaneo1, James N. Galloway1, Allison M. Leach2
1University of Virginia, 291 McCormick Rd, Charlottesville, VA, 22904 USA, [email protected]
2University of New Hampshire, 131 Main Street, 107 Nesmith Hall, Durham, NH, 03824 USA
Reactive nitrogen is both essential and detrimental to life on Earth. While nitrogen is a key component of protein, it is also a pollutant that can cause climate change, eutrophication, and more. The University of Virginia (UVA) is the only university that has approved a nitrogen footprint reduction goal. This goal was approved by UVA’s governing board in 2013 and aims to reduce the University’s nitrogen footprint by 25% below 2010 levels by 2025. Note that for this study, the boundaries of the N footprint calculation at UVA include on-campus university operations but excludes the food component of the universities’ health system. UVA has calculated its footprint for 2010 and 2014 and will continue to complete a benchmark calculation every four years. The UVA N footprint group and the Office for Sustainability have determined a number of scenarios to reduce the University’s N footprint. Examples of these include implementing a Meatless Mondays program, composting all food waste at the University and switching from coal to natural gas at the heating plant. Since the 2010 baseline year, UVA’s N footprint has changed from a total of 403 to 393 MT N; the total reduction needs to be to 303 MT N. The decrease in the universities N footprint can be partially attributed to the decrease in coal use in the universities’ heating plant. UVA hopes to serve as a model for other universities and institutions that want to reduce their environmental impact by setting and achieving N reduction goals.