How to analyse and measure the carbon handprint of universities?

Session questions(s):

How could we examine and elaborate the idea of the carbon handprint, focusing on the positive climate impacts of universities? What could be proposed as preliminary approaches to achieve progress in carbon handprint measurement within higher education institutions?


Session description:

1) A major difference between handprint and footprint concepts: With the carbon footprint concept, the goal is simple: to get the footprint to as close to zero as possible. With handprints, there is essentially no limit to the positive impacts that can be achieved.

2) Liberal and conservative versions of the carbon handprint: The liberal version: any good social benefit of an organisation’s actions, such as employment creation and tax revenue generation. The conservative version: an organisation’s products, actions, or services that help individuals or other organisations avoid emitting greenhouse gases.


Session lesson(s):

Universities’ “products”:
– research
– education
– social impact, such as knowledge sharing and cooperative projects

The influence of universities’ “products” may be difficult to evaluate and quantify. One solution is to see the carbon handprint of higher education institutions as a qualitative issue related to knowledge, skills, attitudes, and ways of life that may not be quantifiable. However, it is also possible for university-based scientific research to result in a technical innovation, a patent, or even a product with a quantifiable impact on emission reduction.


Session keyword(s):

handprint, carbon footprint, social impact, environmental impact


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Kouraantuntuva kädenjälki



Tommi Lehtonen, 

University of Vaasa

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