Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.45
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Oct. 17, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Green Mountain College
IN-1: Innovation 1

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Kenneth Mulder
Cerridwen Farm Manager
Sustainable Agriculture
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Supply Chain Impact Assessment of All Purchases on a Range of Environmental Indicators

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome :

In academic year 2012-2013, Green Mountain College resolved that it would estimate the indirect ecological impacts of its purchases of goods and services. Climate impacts associated with its purchases would be assessed by estimating the embodied greenhouse gases in purchases. A suite of other indirect ecological impacts would also be assessed and placed into a multicriteria framework that would weight impacts based on scientific knowledge and community values.

The first stage of this assessment took place in the fall semester of 2013. Kenneth Mulder’s economics of the environment class surveyed all of the college purchases of goods and services. Out of $14.04 million in purchases, $11.81 million were assessed directly. The remaining $2.23 million, generally small purchases of under $200, were assessed through a sampling procedure. Through this process, all of the college purchases of goods and services were assigned to SIC codes for 2002. Purchases by sector were then entered in an environmental input-output life cycle analysis model developed at Carnegie Mellon (www.eiolca.net), a tool which uses an integrated ecological-economic model to estimate various ecological impacts of economic production based on purchases.

The preliminary results were then interpreted by students with three goals in mind. First was to understand the general nature of the impacts and to give meaning to the numbers. This occurred by researching direct impacts of the particular ecological flow (e.g. impacts of cancer-causing emissions) or by looking at comparable impacting activities (e.g. smoking cigarettes). Second, students looked for areas of ecological impact where the college impacts were particularly high relative to global and national norms. Finally, students used the data to determine what sectors of purchases at the College were most impacting and therefore might be targets for impact reduction.

During the spring of 2014, Dr. Mulder and a research assistant began checking and verifying the results, while stakeholders began discussing ways to use the information to influence purchasing decisions. Key questions that remain include whether to utilize a more current model (there tend to be large time lags in the data inherently), how to proceed with the multicriteria analysis, and how to automatize the system to increase data quality and reduce associated workload. Once the data have been properly assessed and verified, the College will be begin a more formal exploration of options to reduce and/or remediate impacts including potentially striving to account for Scope III carbon emissions in the ACUPCC climate neutrality goals.


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

The analysis will allow the College to begin minimizing its purchasing impacts across the follow wide range of indicators:
Ozone Depletion
Global Warming
Acidification
Carcinogenicity
Noncarcinogenicity
Criteria Air Pollutants
Eutrophication
Smog Formation
Ecotoxicity
Fossil Fuel Use
Habitat/T&E Species
Water Use


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of 5):
Yes or No
Curriculum No
Research Yes
Campus Engagement No
Public Engagement No
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy Yes
Grounds No
Purchasing Yes
Transportation No
Waste No
Water No
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
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Please note that this project greatly exceeds what's required of OP-16 Life Cycle Cost Analysis. Whereas OP-16 is focused on energy and water impacts of purchases, this project includes the following for all purchases, and the results will be used by the strategic plan steering committee in pursuit of the goal of authentic sustainability:
Ozone Depletion
Global Warming
Acidification
Carcinogenicity
Noncarcinogenicity
Criteria Air Pollutants
Eutrophication
Smog Formation
Ecotoxicity
Fossil Fuel Use
Habitat/T&E Species
Water Use

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.