The Nitrogen Footprint Tool network: A multi-institution program to reduce nitrogen pollution

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Anthropogenic sources of reactive nitrogen have local and global impacts on air and water quality and detrimental effects on human and ecosystem health. This paper uses the nitrogen footprint tool (NFT) to determine the amount of nitrogen (N) released as a result of institutional consumption. The sectors accounted for include food (consumption and upstream production), energy, transportation, fertilizer, research animals, and agricultural research. The NFT is then used for scenario analysis to manage and track reductions, which are driven by the consumption behaviors of both the institution itself and its constituent individuals. In this paper, the first seven completed institution nitrogen footprint results are presented. The institution NFT network aims to develop footprints for many institutions to encourage widespread upper-level management strategies that will create significant reductions in reactive nitrogen released to the environment. Energy use and food purchases are the two largest sectors contributing to institution nitrogen footprints. Ongoing efforts by institutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also help to reduce the nitrogen footprint, but the impact of food production on nitrogen pollution has not been directly addressed by the higher-ed sustainability community. The NFT Network found that institutions could reduce their nitrogen footprints by optimizing food purchasing to reduce consumption of animal products and minimize food waste, as well as reducing dependence on fossil fuels for energy.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The Nitrogen Footprint Tool network: A multi-institution program to reduce nitrogen pollution
Series title Sustainability
DOI 10.1089/sus.2017.29098.eac
Volume 10
Issue 2
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Mary Ann Liebert, Inc
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 79
Last page 88