How Good Information Advances Sustainability in Universities

EnviroBYTES Helps McGill University Improve Sustainability Through Information Management
Feb 28, 2013 1:35 PM ET

How enviroBYTES Helps Universities Boost Sustainability

From Starting Up Green

Universities have always been important centers of environmental efforts and innovation, acutely aware of the long term health of our planet and motivated to contribute to solutions.  Now universities are increasingly focused on sustainability on their own campuses, and finding ways to do better.  Besides an interest in doing the right thing, universities are major consumers of energy and resources, and producers of greenhouse gases, with a significant impact on the environment beyond the campus.  While universities are motivated to do the right thing, good intentions are often not enough.  Making progress requires practical solutions, and practical solutions require good information about resource use and emissions. 

Finding, gathering, and reporting sustainability related information across a large organization like a university is not always easy.  Data on water, energy, waste, and greenhouse gases is often scattered across many different sites in a university, making it hard for those involved to get information together in one place, and to do this quickly and efficiently.  And if you don’t have good information, then it’s not possible to build a plan to act on this information, reducing the environmental impact.

enviroBYTES is providing unique solutions for universities to track, measure, and report on sustainability performance.  They provide a centralized resource, automated data gathering, and web-based tools, saving universities time and money and helping them meet their sustainability goals. 

The tools enviroBYTES provides include CarbonSolve for tracking greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and environmental resource management.  They also provide a tool called AcquaSolve for tracking water use, and CSRSolve for tracking corporate social responsibility related information. 

Working with McGill University, enviroBYTES helped them to meet the requirements of legislation in Quebec to report their greenhouse gas emissions.  Those involved at McGill had thought that their emissions and climate change impact would be very low since they relied primarily on power provided by hydro sources, but knowing the full story of McGill’s impact required a better way of gathering and reporting data.  Using CarbonSolve, enviroBYTES helped McGill to track and report the full range of data across the university, including components like air travel that had been difficult to track.  With thousands of flights involved, air travel makes a significant contribution to McGill’s greenhouse gas emissions, or the emissions of any university, but measuring this impact can be a daunting challenge. enviroBYTES makes this much easier through the power of good information tools.        

“CarbonSolve has helped us streamline the collection of data from disparate sources, automate the calculation of carbon impacts, and provide analysis to help meet our internal and external program reporting goals,” said Jerome Conraud, Energy Manager, Utilities and Energy Management at McGill University.     

Without tools like these, a university like McGill might not be able to accurately calculate the impact of factors like air travel, or might be forced to calculate the impact manually for thousands of flight. With information about greenhouse gas emissions gathered and reported more easily and accurately across the whole university, they are in a better position to take positive steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as well.

“McGill has not only been able to comprehensively figure out their carbon impacts, but has also been able to identify areas for reduction, and can now track performance against those targets in real time,” said Ted Dhillon, founder and CEO of enviroBYTES.

McGill is not alone in their commitment to sustainability or the opportunity to use tools like these.  Universities across North America are embracing sustainability efforts, including the STARS framework developed by AASHE, a self-reporting system in which universities can measure their sustainability performance. 

Tools like those provided by enviroBYTES may not always get a great deal of attention, but they are every bit as important as solar panels and green buildings in tackling climate change on university campuses and elsewhere in the world.  By helping universities to efficiently track and report key sustainability data, enviroBYTES helps everyone involved to more rapidly reach their sustainability goals, and helps all of us move toward a more sustainable future.

Envirobytes can be reached by email at:  email here

The phone number for envirobytes is 819 483-2760

Glenn Croston is the author of "75 Green Businesses" and "Starting Green", and the founder of Starting Up Green.  He can be reached here: email




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