The environmental impact of engineering education in Australia

Parsons, David (2009) The environmental impact of engineering education in Australia. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 14 (2). pp. 175-183. ISSN 0948-3349

Text (Accepted Version)

Download (421Kb)


The process of producing a graduate is a complex one involving major effort usually by large institutions such as universities. The Faculty of Engineering and Surveying at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia produces several hundred engineering and spatial science graduates each year using both on campus and external modes of study. The purpose of this study is to determine the major causes of environmental impact in this process with a view to targeting areas where improvements may be made. Materials and methods: An inventory of all major inputs to and outputs from the faculty was compiled from a mixture of measurements, real data, and financial data for the calendar year 2006. Data for graduate output were also compiled. These data were then assessed using SimaPro software, mainly Australian data and predominantly the Eco-indicator 99 (E) method of impact assessment. Results The analysis shows that environmental impacts are many and varied as might be expected from a complex operation like a university. However, energy inputs in the form of electricity from black coal, staff and student travel and the embodied impact of buildings were dominant. Discussion: The results obtained may point the way towards future consideration of areas where environmental impact might be reduced by changes in institution strategies such as the way external students are taught and the way the electricity usage in our buildings is managed. Conclusions: The environmental impact of undergraduate education is complex and involves many different areas of activity. However, the use of energy in various forms is of major significance in this impact. Recommendations and perspectives: It is recommended that university managers consider the results presented in this paper and use them as a starting point in developing strategies to reduce the impact of their institutions.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 4683
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Author's version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Depositing User: Mr David Parsons
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2009 08:47
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2014 00:29
Uncontrolled Keywords: building energy; engineering education; environmental impact; external student; graduate output; laboratory operations; on-campus student; university operations
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130199 Education systems not elsewhere classified
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960603 Environmental Lifecycle Assessment
Identification Number or DOI: doi: 10.1007/s11367-008-0045-5

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only