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The environmental impact of teaching and learning
The environmental impact of teaching and learning

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3.1.1 Background to the SusTEACH Carbon Calculators

The SusTEACH Carbon Calculators were developed from a detailed environmental assessment methodology to examine the key sources of energy consumption and the related carbon impacts associated with teaching and learning activities. The carbon calculation is based on information provided by lecturers and/or students on their course-related activities, including travel, the purchase and use of ICT devices and educational materials, and choice of residential accommodation and type of higher education system.

The Carbon Calculator for Lecturers requests additional details about teaching-related activities, such as the number of study hours (or CATS credits) planned for the course and its duration, the number of students that studied on the course during the previous academic year, and the proportion of time spent teaching the specific course as opposed to doing other teaching or work. The information that you provide is combined by the Carbon Calculator to apportion your impacts to the specific course.

The SusTEACH calculators were developed following a review of the most up-to-date and well-researched studies to establish measures of the sources of energy consumption in megajoules (MJ), and carbon emissions in kilograms of carbon dioxide (kg CO2).

The calculators mainly use measures of delivered energy and direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of fossil fuels at the point of use, derived from UK government sources (see AEA, 2011). The calculators also use measures derived from lifecycle studies of the embodied energy consumption and related carbon emissions of paper, printed materials and ICT equipment. (Further information is provided in The SusTEACH Methodology [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which is a detailed resource on conducting a carbon-based environmental impact assessment of HE courses and modules.)

The calculators use information based on the average energy consumption associated with campus-based and distance teaching institutions to calculate the carbon impacts of campus operations. As a lecturer, you may have energy data that is specific to your institution that you would prefer to use instead for this part of the calculation.

The calculators measure energy consumption and carbon impact against the CATS credits (or hours of study) that are applicable to a course and related to the duration of a course. The Carbon Calculators measure the impacts of teaching or learning activities associated with a course on energy consumption and CO2 emissions using a standard measure of energy consumption (MJ) and CO2 emissions (kg) ‘per student per 10 CATS credits’ (equivalent to 100 study hours) for the course.

Before exploring this tool, first watch the video introducing the SusTEACH Carbon Calculators for Lecturers and for Students.

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The SusTEACH Carbon Calculator
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