Sustainability Assessment

Sustainability Assessment

Learn and discuss how to assess the CO2 footprint of your institute and how to report about it! A workshop given by colleagues from MPI-A in Heidelberg.

Workshop Hosts: Knud Jahnke & Jan Rybizki (MPI-A, Heidelberg)

What is the carbon footprint of fundamental research? What are the dominating sources, and what is the purpose of these emissions? How does this relate to the perceived relative importance? And how does one get these data?

We at the MPI for Astronomy had the interest to decarbonize our institute's research. As data-driven as Astronomy is, our first step was to try to assess the institute's carbon emission budget, since we did not have a good gut-feeling for the relative importance of at least some of the potential contributing sources. Is the carbon footprint of paper consumption more important than that of commuting? What about meat in the cafeteria, heat in winter? What about our supercomputing needs and the impact of domestic, European, and intercontinental travel?

Answering these questions is the first step before goals can be set, and targeted measures thought up and implemented to reach these goals. We want to show where we started in our carbon footprint assessment, show the challenges we faced even when everyone was sympathetic, and show the resulting emission calculation. We hope that this will help other MPIs to do similar calculations, but also to identify missing items on our side, and potential differences between MPIs that need to be taken into account. This workshop session is planned as an input talk with smooth transition into an open discussion.

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