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Bard MBA Program Publishes Annual Footprint Report

The Bard MBA in Sustainability’s Footprint Committee is proud to announce the publication of the 2020/2021 Bard MBA Program Footprint Report which outlines the carbon footprint of the program during the academic year beginning in June 2020 and ending in May 2021.

In a typical year, the program operates as a hybrid online/in-person learning structure, with weekly online classes and ten long weekend, in-person residencies throughout the regular academic year where students, faculty, and administration gather in New York City. While the COVID-19 pandemic required the program to operate 100% virtually, to maintain data for year-over-year comparisons, the student-led Footprint Committee collected data and projected emissions as if the year had run in-person as usual. The report is based on those figures.  

It is projected that the Bard MBA program would have emitted approximately 113.33 MT CO2e during the 2020/2021 academic year if the program had met in person, which is equivalent to driving 283,991 miles in an average passenger vehicle. 

While the low-residency structure makes the Bard MBA program accessible to students in varying geographies, it results in high travel-related emissions, including transportation and accommodations, that account for more than 80% of in-person projected emissions. Flights alone are responsible for 49% of total in-person projected emissions at 55.17 MT CO2e. Transportation is consistently the largest impact category for the Bard MBA program and is expected to continue to be so in future. 

Data usage intensity, including video calls and general internet use, was another large contributor and is the only impact category that would have seen an emission reduction (estimated 28% drop) had residencies been held in-person rather than online. 

Other impact categories measured this year include the built environment, food, books, and waste. 

The report has been developed using the guidance provided in the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard and reports emissions by scope. With the intention of reporting in accordance with the GRI “Core” Standards in the future, a discussion regarding the measurement of the Bard MBA program’s social footprint is introduced at the end of the report. Much like the majority of organizations, Scope 3 carries the largest impact with more than 88% of total emissions classified as indirect up- or downstream activities. 

The Footprint Committee intends to use the methodology and projected emission totals in this report as a baseline for comparisons in future reports and as the basis for purchasing carbon offsets so the Bard MBA program can maintain carbon neutrality.

The Committee is grateful for the continued support and interest in this report and welcomes questions and discussion. The Committee can be reached at BardMBAFootprintCommittee@gmail.com.

The goal of the Footprint Committee is to provide students with a solid foundation for understanding, analyzing, and translating carbon footprint data. Committee members were responsible for every part of the process from survey design to methodology, to data analysis/visualization and interpretation. The skill-set acquired through participation is real-world experience that will be transferable to many of the sustainability roles that students will take on in their careers.