Student author: Elizabeth de la Reguera
Student author: Steven Fitzpatrick
Student author: Olivia Boggiano-Peterson

Document Type


Publication Date



Center for Sustainability Education



Publication Title

Sustainability: The Journal of Record


The release of reactive nitrogen contributes to its accumulation in the environment, causing a variety of harmful effects. To measure Dickinson College’s contribution to nitrogen pollution, and quantify the potential to reduce its contribution, we calculated the college’s nitrogen footprint and simulated the effects of selected nitrogen mitigation measures. The analysis was obtained using the Nitrogen Footprint Tool, developed at the University of Virginia. Food production is by far the largest contributor to Dickinson’s footprint, followed by heat and power. Transportation, sewage, and groundskeeping contribute relatively small amounts. Breaking food down into different food categories, meat and fish is the largest source of nitrogen, accounting for two-thirds of the food footprint. Simulations of individual mitigation measures showed that measures targeting food are the most impactful for reducing the college’s nitrogen footprint. Two policy scenarios that combine multiple measures, one representing moderate action and the other more aggressive action, were also analyzed. They are projected to reduce Dickinson’s footprint by roughly 15 and 25 percent, respectively, while reducing operating costs. Achieving these reductions would require substantial changes in dietary choices by members of the campus community.


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© 2017. This publication is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license: