Carbon brainprint – An estimate of the intellectual contribution of research institutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions
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AbstractThis is the accepted manuscript of a paper published in Process Safety and Environmental Protection (Chatterton J, et al., Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 2015, 96, 74-81, doi:10.1016/j.psep.2015.04.008). The final version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psep.2015.04.008
Research and innovation have considerable, currently unquantified potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by, for example, increasing energy efficiency. Furthermore, the process of knowledge transfer in itself can have a significant impact on reducing emissions, by promoting awareness and behavioural change. The concept of the ‘carbon brainprint’ was proposed to convey the intellectual contribution of higher education institutions to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by other parties through research and teaching/training activities. This paper describes an investigation of the feasibility of quantifying the carbon brainprint, through six case studies. The potential brainprint of higher education institutes is shown to be significant: up to 500 kt CO2e/year for one project. The most difficult aspect is attributing the brainprint among multiple participants in joint projects.
The Carbon Brainprint project was supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) under its Leading Sustainable Development in Higher Education programme, with support for case studies from Santander Universities. HEFCE, Research Councils UK and the Carbon Trust were members of the Steering Committee, which provided guidance, but did not direct the research. The Carbon Trust also advised on best practice in carbon footprinting. We are grateful to the many university staff at Cranfield, Cambridge and Reading Universities who shared their work with us so enthusiastically. We also thank the external partners and clients for the projects on which these case studies are based: Rolls-Royce plc, the ETI NOVA consortium, IGD, the Environment Agency, Esso, Repsol YPF, Carnego Systems Ltd. and Newera Controls Ltd.
Chatterton J, et al., Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 2015, 96, 74-81, doi:10.1016/j.psep.2015.04.008