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Ecological footprint: a tool for environmental management in educational institutions

Katherine Ortegon (Department of Industrial Engineering, Universidad ICESI, Cali, Colombia)
Pilar Acosta (School of Business and Economic Sciences, Universidad ICESI, Cali, Colombia)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 11 July 2019

Issue publication date: 19 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, as few universities have assessed their ecological footprint (EF), a benchmark for Colombian universities is presented. Second, a practical calculation tool for measuring the EF in educational institutions (EIs) is developed. The purpose of this tool is to facilitate the process of assessing the EF in EIs that are starting sustainability initiatives and to unify criteria with those already involved.


The development of the Ecological Footprint for Educational Institutions (EFEI) calculator is detailed showing the seven categories analyzed and the adaptation to the Colombian context.


Results are presented from a case study of EFEI implementation at Universidad Icesi. Furthermore, the relation between these results and the action taken to mitigate EF at the university is detailed.

Practical implications

Colombian EIs have recently joined the sustainable campus movement. The EF methodology and this tool serve to assess impacts and identify what EIs can do to ameliorate their environmental stewardship.

Social implications

EIs are called on to lead by example in terms of sustainability, not only in teaching and researching cutting-edge technologies but also in being sustainable and transferring this knowledge to future generations.


First, an EF benchmark for Colombian universities is presented. In addition, a unified methodology for EIs is developed. The availability of a standard tool will encourage other EIs to move forward in the effort to achieve a sustainable campus.



Ortegon, K. and Acosta, P. (2019), "Ecological footprint: a tool for environmental management in educational institutions", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 675-690.



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