Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence

Environmental Performance

Institutional assessment tools for sustainability in higher education: strengths, weaknesses, and implications for practice and theory
By Michael Shriberg

Environmental Calculators

Are you looking to crunch some numbers? We have assembled some calculators; developed and available from various organizations, to assist you in estimating environmental impacts.

Are there other, easy-to-use calculators that you recommend? We welcome additional, recommended calculators or tools, and we will gladly add them to this list.

GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS: For a calculator and tools on how to conduct a Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Calculate direct and indirect emissions go to

OFFICE EQUIPMENT: Compare energy impacts and cost of conventional office equipment – PC/Monitors, faxes, printers, and copiers – to “Energy Star” equipment

RECYCLED PAPER: Evaluate the life cycle environmental impacts associated with using different grades (e.g., recycled content) of paper and paperboard using the Paper Calculator"®, developed by The U.S. Postal Service, EPA, and Environmental Defense.

RECYCLING: Estimate the benefits of recycling by using the Northeast Recycling Council’s (NERC) Environmental Benefits Calculator at . While the calculator is primarily intended for state and local governments, it can be used by colleges and universities to estimate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy savings, air emissions and water releases, as well as for life cycle comparisons.

The College and University Recycling Council (CURC) is a technical council of the National Recycling Coalition. CURC is a network of campus-based recycling professionals who face similar challenges and opportunities in managing college and university programs. Their home page:
The calculator:

TRANSPORTATION: The Rideshare Calculator generates daily, monthly and yearly air emissions (i.e., criteria pollutants) for an average vehicle, based on roundtrip mileage to campus.

WATER LOSS: This simple Water Wiser® Drip Calculator estimates water loss, based on known water leak rates or volumes.

College and University Performance Reports
Recently, there has been a heightened interest in sustainability reporting for colleges and universities. More than 2,000 organizations worldwide voluntarily publish environmental or sustainability reports, but only a handful of colleges and universities have reported publicly on their performance. That may soon change.

The following list provides links to recent reports and assessments issued by colleges and universities. There is no standard format to the reports and no consensus on the best indicators for a college or university. They are tailored to the unique needs, culture and constituencies for the university. These reports are useful to any institution interested in tracking its performance because they illustrate who’s measuring what, how reports are structured and the scope of the reports. These reports may therefore help other colleges and universities discover the value of sustainability and/or environmental reporting.

Michigan State University:

Pennsylvania State University:

University of British Columbia’s Annual Report for 2002:

University of Florida:

University of Michiagn:

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill:

University of Oregon Annual Reports:

University of Vermont:

Visit the “Campus Sustainability Assessment Project” at for comprehensive library of resources for supporting colleges and universities in evaluating their social and environmental performance.

Effective Environmental Performance Indicators (EPIs) are needed to help guide internal efforts to build Environmental Management Systems (EMSs), develop enhanced compliance systems and build effective bridges with other constituencies on campus, such as campus greening groups and financial personnel.

The following list represents a first attempt by the Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence at exploring some useful EPIs. Some of the EPIs are clearly articulated, while some need further refinement. Some indicators are presented as absolute (e.g., total waste generation or the existence of an environmental performance report) while others are expressed as a relationship between data.

The purpose of this list is to get colleges and universities thinking about EPIs and starting to measure something that is meaningful to the program’s success. Your feedback is welcome.

C2E2 List of Environmental Performance Indicators

“Measuring Environmental Performance: A Primer and Survey of Metrics in Use.” This document, developed by the Global Environmental Management Institute for its corporate members, is one of many valuable guidance documents and surveys offered by GEMI. Written in 1997, it provides guidance on selecting indicators and implementing, evaluating and improving environmental programs. Documents are available at
? Visit the University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF) for information about indicators as well as Campus Assessments, Audits, Surveys and Reports.

OH&S Performance Indicator List
Wayne Pardy, CRSP, published key information detailing “performance measurements for workplace safety”. See the indicator list and powerpoint presentation here.
100 OH&S performance indicators

Reporting Guidance
2002 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines developed by the Global Reporting Initiative. The Guidelines and other useful documents are available at

If you have a report or guidance materials you would like to share with us, please email the information to Tom Balf at or Suzanne Howard at