189124 Measuring institutional carbon “foodprints”

Monday, October 27, 2008: 5:10 PM

Brent Kim , Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Leana Pitkevits Houser, MS , Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Roni Neff, PhD, SM , Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Background: Amid growing concerns about climate change, measurement of institutional “carbon footprints” provides a way to understand current impacts and identify options for reducing emissions. There are multiple institutional emissions inventory programs and individual carbon footprint calculators; however, few have the capability to capture food-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Considering estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that 31% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture and forestry (the latter substantially comprised of deforestation for food production), food related emissions are significant and should be measured. The nonprofit Clean Air-Cool Planet provides emissions inventory software to universities and other institutions and requested assistance from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future in identifying opportunities to develop a module on food-related emissions.

Methods: A review was performed of methods used by industry and academics to quantify food related contributions, in order to identify the tools currently in use, and to aid in considering options for developing a "foodprint" calculator. The review included over 140 articles, life cycle analyses (LCA) and carbon calculators.

Results: The review findings, including strengths and limitations of existing methodologies, will be described. Recognizing limitations and seeking to use the most reputable, applicable data possible, a method was developed to represent some emissions from university food provision for incorporation into the Clean Air-Cool Planet Campus Carbon Calculator; this will be described.

Discussion: There is a clear need for more LCA research on food available in the US in order to better inform food-related choices.

Learning Objectives:
Describe what a carbon calculator is. Explain the difference between the two types of Life Cycle Analyses.

Keywords: Climate Change, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Co-author of literature review.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.