SJU first University in South Asia to report its greenhouse gas emissions

    The University of Sri Jayewardenepura has become the first university in South Asia to report its greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the ISO 14064-1:2018 standard. The official Awarding Ceremony of the ISO 14064-1:2018 certificate took place on Thursday at the Senate Boardroom of the University. The Jayewardenepura University has in a media statement said that it is committed to the environmental well-being of the country and has implemented the “Carbon Neutral Project” led by the Centre for Sustainability (CFS) of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Sciences. The project aims to make USJ the first carbon neutral university in South Asia.

    Steps to achieve this goal include calculating the University’s carbon footprint. Calculating and comparing the carbon footprint yearly allows USJ to understand and monitor its individual contribution to global warming and employ strategies to reduce the GHG emissions. Further, to simply calculating the carbon footprint, USJ has now voluntarily disclosed greenhouse gas emissions from 2019 and had them verified in accordance with ISO 14064-3: 2019. The University is now proud to report that the requirements for ISO 14064 -1: 2018 have been successfully met with regards to GHG emissions for the academic year of 2019. A huge achievement on the road to neutrality and combined with multiple other CFS projects brings USJ ever closer to insetting all of its emissions.

    The CFS is at the forefront of carbon neutrality study and strategy amongst the academic community of Sri Lanka and has created a systematic plan, based on research findings, to compensate for the University’s GHG emissions, CFS Director, Prof. Priyan Perera, said.Prof. Perera said achieving accurate carbon footprint reporting in an institution of this magnitude is no easy task and requires the contribution and cooperation of all the departments and divisions on campus. He said that the University was to utilise our centralized web-based portal to assist all departments in reporting their individual emissions.

    “Spreading awareness about carbon reporting, through training sessions and workshops is, and will remain, a key component of present and future initiatives to reduce our overall climate impact,” he said.

    The ISO 14064-1 Certification to the University of Sri Jayewardenepura was awarded by The Sustainable Future Group (SFG), an ISO 14065 accredited body by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) through the Sri Lanka Accreditation Board (SLAB). SFG is the only sustainability verification and certification body that is accredited to verify and validate Organisational-, Project-, and Product-level GHG emissions inventories under ISO 14064-1 & 2 and ISO 14067.

    Under the scrutiny of ‘‘The Sustainable Future Group’ direct and indirect GHG emissions were calculated and verified as 3,838.56 tonnes of CO2e. Direct emissions include sources such as fuel consumption for university-owned vehicles, on-site fuel for generators, and laboratory emissions. Indirect emissions refer to purchased electricity for use in lecture halls, administrative buildings, canteens and other on campus buildings. With this information in hand, the CFS can now start to use its various environmental sustainability projects to attempt to neutralize these emissions.

    Reforestation projects represent a vital component of the strategy which proposes to compensate GHG emissions through ‘insetting’. Carbon insetting is the process of balancing one’s carbon emissions via projects that protect existing carbon sinks or create new ones, typically in the form of forests, grasslands or wetlands. The University of Sri Jayewardenepura, through the CFS, now boasts three major carbon sinks including; 145 ha of lowland tropical rainforest at the Yagirala Forest Reserve, 400 ha of dry mixed evergreen forest in Wanniyagamma and 7 ha of mangrove forest and agroforestry land in Ittapana. Reforestation has repeatedly been shown to be one of the most effective ways to combat climate change and the benefits of forest restoration go far beyond carbon sequestration. Forests provide essential ecosystem services to communities around the world in the form of hydrological regulation, biodiversity safe havens and non-timber forest products. Combined with other strategies to reduce GHG emissions on campus such as using alternative energy sources, the expansion of solar power systems and improved waste management and water treatment facilities, the reforestation projects managed by the CFS will make a huge contribution to carbon neutrality.