The Ecological Footprint of Students for the Campus of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM)

Document Type : Research Article


1 Department of Agrotechnology, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Department of Agrotechnology, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


The ecological footprint (EF) is an area of biologically productive land capable of meeting all human needs (food, clothing, and construction) and accommodating their production waste. Therefore, application of ecological footprint in combination with social and economic impact assessment can provide the basis for measuring triple sustainability indices (social, economic and ecological). Universities around the world are amongst the institutions that are increasingly focusing on promoting sustainability, and often use ecological footprints as a good indicator for measuring their sustainability. Universities are considered to be one of the largest consumers of paper, energy and water, and because they utilize these resources for education and research activities, it is expected that a sustainable university should have minimized adverse environmental, economic, social and health impacts and help society moving towards a sustainable life style. However, ecological footprint of Iranian universities is not documented. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to calculate the ecological footprint of students of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad as the third biggest university of the country.
Materials and Methods                        
In this study, EF on the campus of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM) was calculated by using two standard international methods including Ecological Footprint Network (EFN) Questionnaire and Ecological Footprint Analysis (EFA). In EFN method the questionnaire designed by Global Footprint Network was used. In EFA method, the university information (consumption of energy, food, and construction) was obtained from the relevant departments and finally, the total footprint was calculated using the standard EF accounting method.
Results and Discussion                                                  
The results showed that total ecological footprint of the campus was 1.51 g/ha, which is less than reported values for the world (2.80) and national (3.20) footprints. This is due to the fact that students use public transportation services and produce less waste. On the other hand, due to the recycling of a significant amount of waste produced at the university, the energy footprint of university students has decreased, which has ultimately reduced the total footprint of students compared to the national and global levels. The EF in this study consists of three components i.e. energy, food, and build up. Among the components, food with 57.3% had the highest share of total footprint and therefore had the most significant impact on increasing the total EF. After the food footprint, the energy with 0.35 g ha (23%), had the highest share of total footprint. While the Build up with 19.7 g ha, had the least significant impact on increasing the total EF. There was no difference between the EF of males and females students. However, the footprint of bachlor students was higher than Msc and PhD students. Architecture students had the most (1.77), while theology students had the lowest EF (1.30 g/ha). Finally, the results of the present study show that Ecological Footprint is one of the appropriate indicators for measuring the sustainability of universities and can help managers and decision makers in universities to move towards sustainability goals.
The EF is an accurate index for evaluation of environmental sustainability, and since reconsideration of the current lifestyles should be started from academic societies, planning for a detailed accounting of EF for university campuses over the country is required.
This  research (Grant No. 47890) was  funded  by  Vice  Chancellor  for  Research  of  the  Ferdowsi  University  of Mashhad, which is hereby acknowledged. We also thank the Vice administration and support and management of the Department of Nutrition of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad and their colleagues for providing the necessary information and data for the present study.



Alshuwaikhat, H.M., Abubakar, I., 2008. An integrated approach to achieving campus sustainability: Assessment of the current campus environmental management practices. Journal of Cleaner Production
Baboulet, O., Lenzen, M., 2010. Evaluating the environmental performance of a university. Journal of Cleaner Production 18(12): 1134-1141.
Bennett, M., Hopkinson, P., and James, P., 2006. Benchmarking Environmental Performance in the English University Sector. The Experience of the Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement (HEEPI) Project. Sustainability Accounting and Reporting 409- 430. Biodiversity. Journal of Biological Conservation 173: 121–132.
Clay, J., 2011. Freeze the footprint of food. Journal of Nature 475: 287–289.
Conway, T.M., Dalton, C., Loo, J., and Benakoun, L., 2008. Developing ecological footprint scenarios on university campuses: A case study of the University of Toronto at Mississauga. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 9(1): 4-20
Dawe, G.F.M., Vetter, A., and Martin, S., 2004. An overview of ecological footprint and other tools and their application to the development of sustainability process. Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 4: 340–371.
Dietrich, H.L., 2013. The role of emotion in environmental decision making. Ph.D. Dissertations and Student Research: Nebraska- Lincoln University. Nebraska, USA.
Flint, K., 2001. Institutional ecological footprint analysis: A case study of the University of Newcastle, Australia. Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 2: 48–62.
Franz, J., and Papyrakis, E., 2011. Reconsidering the ‘ecological footprint’ index: Does it promote sustainable behavior? Available online at Web site http://www.esee2009. Si/papers/Papyrakis (verified 16 June 2011).
Galli, A., Wiedmann T., Ercin E., Knoblauch, D., Ewing, B., and Giljum, S., 2012. Integrating Ecological, Carbon and Water footprint into a “Footprint Family” of indicators: Definition and role in tracking human pressure on the planet. Ecological Indicators 16: 100–112.
Gan, Y., Liang, C., Huang, G., Malhi, S.S., Brandt, S.A., and Mupondwa, F.K., 2012. Carbon footprint of canola and mustard is a function of the rate of N fertilizer. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 17: 58–68.
Global Footprint Network (GFN)., 2018. Ecological Footprint. Available at Web site (verified 20 December 2019).
Hails, C., Loh, J., and Goldfinger, S., 2006. Living Planet Report. World Wide Fund for Nature International (WWF), Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Global Footprint Network, Gland, Switzerland. Available at Web site (verified 8 June 2010).
Kitzes, J.A., Galli, M., Baglianic, J., Barrett, G., Dige, S., Ede, K., Erb, S., Giljum, H., Haber, C., Hails, L., Jolia -Ferrierj, S., Jungwirt, M., Lenzen, K., Lewis, J., Loh, N., Marchettini, H., Messingero, K., Milnek, R., Molesp, C., Monfred, D., Moran, K., Nakano, A., Pyhalat, W., Rees, C., Simmons, M., Wackernagel, Y., Wada, C., Walsh and
     Wiedmanm. T., 2009. A research agenda for improving national Ecological Footprint accounts. Journal of Ecological Economics 68: 1991–2007.
Kitzes, J., Peller, A, Goldfinger, S., Wackernagel, M., 2007. Current methods for calculating national ecological footprint accounts. Journal of Environmental Science for Sustainable Society 4(1): 1-9.
Lambrechts, W., and Liedekerke, L.V., 2014. Using ecological footprint analysis in higher education: Campus operations, policy development and educational purposes. Journal of Ecological Indicators 45: 402–406.
Medina, M.A.P., and Toledo-Bruno, A.G., 2016. Ecological footprint of university students: Does gender matter? Global Journal of Environmental Science and Management 2(4): 339-344.
Raj, S., Goel, S., Sharma, M., and Singh, A., 2012. Ecological footprint score in university students. Journal of Environmental and Occupational Science 1(1): 23-26. DOI : 10.5455/jeos.20120610031942
See, T.A., Weng Wai, C., and Safitri Zen, I., 2016. Ecological Footprint of Research University Students: A Pilot Case Study in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. MATEC Web of Conferences 66, 00073. January 2016 pp. 1-5.
Steffen, W., Broadgate, W., Deutsch, L., Gaffney, O., and Ludwig, C., 2015. The trajectory of the Anthropocene: the great acceleration. The Anthropocene Review 1(2): 81-98.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)., 2012. Global Outlook on Sustainable Consumption and Production Policies: Taking Action Together United Nations Environment Program, Nairobi. Available at Web site (verified 5 February 2013).
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)., 2015. Global Outlook on Sustainable Consumption and Production Policies: Taking Action Together United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi. Available at Web site (verified 25 December 2015).
Velazquez, L., Munguia, N., Platt, A., and Taddei. J., 2006. Sustainable university: What can be the matter? Journal of Cleaner Production 14(9): 810-819.
Venetoulis, J., 2001. Assessing the ecological impact of a university, Ecological footprint for the University of Redlands. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 2(2): 180-196.
Wackernagel, M., and Rees, W., 1996. Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth, New Society Publishers, and Gabriolia Island, BC. 9(2):135-149.
Wackernagel, M., Monfreda, C., Schulz, N.B., Erb, K.H., Haberl, H., and Krausmann, F., 2004. Calculating national and global ecological footprint time series: resolving conceptual challenges. Journal of Land Use Policy 21: 271–278.
Wolthers, H., Williamson, A., Urera, S., Syta, A., Scott, C., Moosuddee, S., McCartney, C., and Burgess, B., 2014. The Ecological Footprint of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Edited by Sinead Speirs, Corinna Souder and Bill Burgess, Geog 4501, Fall 2014.
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)., 2002. Living Planet Report 2002. World Wildlife Found Editor. Available at Web site (verified 5 October 2002).
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)., 2012. Living Planet Report 2012: Biodiversity, biocapacity and better choices. Gland, Switzerland. Available at Web site (verified 20 December 2013).
Volume 14, Issue 3 - Serial Number 53
September 2022
Pages 399-413
  • Receive Date: 01 June 2020
  • Revise Date: 27 June 2020
  • Accept Date: 23 August 2020
  • First Publish Date: 27 November 2020