KU Leuven Carbon Neutral is part of the broader Leuven Carbon Neutral 2030 project (LCN 2030) that was launched by the city of Leuven and KU Leuven in 2011. The project's research manager, Peter Tom Jones, is calling on the university community to take responsibility for its outsized impact in the region: "In the study conducted for LCN 2013, it was clear that KU Leuven has a major impact on Leuven's climate. We see it as our obligation to do something about that. Through our education and research activities, we can contribute to achieving carbon neutrality. The establishment of the KU Leuven Carbon Neutral working group within Metaforum was a logical step in this direction. This new CO2 inventory should form the basis of the discussion on how the university can reduce its CO2 emissions – and its sizable energy bill – in a structural way."
KU Leuven emitted approximately 193,360 tons of CO2 in 2010. That total can be divided into two categories. 'Upstream and in-house emissions' – the CO2 emissions over which the university has a direct impact – account for 44 per cent of the total.
'Downstream emissions' – emissions over which KU Leuven can exert only a limited impact – account for 56 per cent of the total. This includes emissions resulting from students' activities, such as housing, food consumption and transportation.Energy use accounts for the most CO2 emissions in both categories.
Professor Duflou, the coordinator of the working group, explains: "Many student residences and university buildings rely on fuel oil. That is an important potential target for reducing CO2 emissions. But it won't be easy. KU Leuven has a rich historical heritage, and many of its historical buildings are protected. Not all protected buildings can be refitted for better insulation, for example. And when it comes to private student housing such as student residences and ‘kots’, the university has no direct impact."
Results and Resolutions
Meanwhile, the new report on the university's carbon footprint has been delivered to the desk Professor Koen Debackere, Managing Director of the University Administration and Central Services. He sees it as a solid basis for further efforts: "This detailed study has the great advantage of mapping the university's CO2 emissions in a segmented and well-grounded way. This will allow us to identify viable and meaningful points of improvement. We welcome this report with great enthusiasm and interest and will take care to use it wisely moving forward."
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