Institutional ecological footprint analysis - A case study of the University of Newcastle, Australia
With documented declines in the biophysical state of the planet, there is a need to develop indicators of sustainability. Ecological footprint analysis (EFA) can be considered an indicator of sustainability that converts consumption and waste production into units of equivalent land area. Based on the reality of biophysical limits to growth, and presenting data in an aggregated, quantifiable, yet easily comprehensible form, EFA is also a useful tool for environmental policy and management. EFA has typically been applied at the national and regional level as well, as for assessment of technology. This paper develops an ecological footprint model for institutional contexts and this study of the University of Newcastle (NSW) is the first institutional level EFA undertaken in Australia. The case study shows tertiary institutions to be net importers of consumption items and thus dependent on a vast external environment. The EFA highlights those areas of consumption which constitute the largest part of the footprint and thus provides the opportunity for targeting those areas for active management. EFA for this tertiary institution clearly identifies that a reduced ecological footprint would mean a movement towards sustainability.