'Footprint' Calculator to Be Launched Friday

February 13, 2008 - News Release

The University of Guelph will launch its web-based "Zerofootprint" calculator Friday at 11 a.m. on the main floor of the Library. The cutting-edge tool will allow people to measure their ecological footprint and reduce their collective impact on the environment.

U of G teamed up with Zerofootprint, a Toronto-based nonprofit agency, last fall to develop the initiative as part of the University's environmental sustainability efforts. It involves a web-based calculator allowing people to estimate and analyze the impact of daily activities such as car travel and electricity use on the environment.

The online tool is unique because it not only calculates a person’s carbon footprint, but it also determines their land, water and tree footprint. For example, the calculator shows users how much carbon is emitted into the atmosphere based on the distance their food has travelled or how much land and water are required to sustain their diet.

It also provides users with advice on how to modify habits and behaviours to shrink their footprint, including setting goals and tracking successes online.

U of G is the first post-secondary institution to engage its entire community on climate change by encouraging members to measure and manage their environmental footprint.

“No one is in a better position to take advantage of the opportunities the Zerofootprint calculator presents than the University,” said President Alastair Summerlee. “The calculator is a way to take social action online. Change has always been about the individual acting as part of a collective – that’s what the calculator allows.”

Gathering data on transportation, energy use, food, waste, consumption and other areas will allow Zerofootprint to know exactly what the school is doing right and where it can "tread more lightly," said Deborah Kaplan, Zerofootprint's executive director.

"The University of Guelph is a leader in sustainability and environmental awareness, and now it is taking the next step. It's not exaggeration to say that what we need is a revolution, and that's what students have always been interested in," she said.

As part of the initiative, the information obtained from the University community will be compiled and a total environmental impact will be measured. With the help of Zerofootprint, U of G will determine ways of reducing its collective footprint. Thousands of alumni, faculty, staff and students are expected to take part.

"By using the calculator, people will not only come to a greater understanding of where their biggest impacts are, but they also will be empowered to make changes in their lifestyle," said Gillian Maurice, Guelph's sustainability co-ordinator.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, l.hunt@exec.uoguelph.ca or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982, d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1