Evaluating an Environmental Sustainability Program and Related Metrics at a Continuing Care Retirement Community

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2022-04-22

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Xinyi Guo (MEM Cadindate) and Chelsea Sloggy (MEM/MBA Candidate) Charlotte Clark (Advisor) Spring 2022 Masters Project Executive Summary Evaluating an Environmental Sustainability Program and Related Metrics at a Continuing Care Retirement Community

More than 2,000 Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRCs, exist across the United States. CCRCs provide a variety of amenities for their residents, including multiple types of residences, dining services, medical facilities, gyms, and more. CCRCs have the potential to implement numerous sustainability initiatives on their campuses and to influence local efforts to mitigate climate change. This Master’s Project sought to help Carol Woods, a non-profit CCRC located in Chapel Hill, NC, understand its current environmental footprint focusing on Dining Services and Buildings & Facilities, develop possible sustainability metrics, and explore potential interventions to improve its environmental sustainability. The methods we used in this project can be summarized as comparative benchmarking and current state analysis. For comparative benchmarking, this project examines both other CCRCs’ sustainability efforts and small-to-medium colleges and universities with outstanding sustainability practices. Our current state analysis focuses on Dining Servies and Buildings & Facilities. We adopt a mass-balance framework to identify the amount of input and the corresponding output. Specifically, we looked into Carol Woods’ food purchasing records to identify the food products with significant environmental impacts. For the output measurements, we conducted a food waste audit and calculated its environmental footprint. In the sector of Buildings & Facilities, we conducted an energy audit focusing on annual electricity consumption and natural gas consumption from 2016 to 2020 as well as evaluated Carol Woods’ institutional vehicle fleet. The outputs of the analysis are greenhouse emissions in terms of electricity and natural gas consumption as well as the environmental performance of Carol Woods’ vehicles. In the Dining sector, results have shown that GHGs led by Carol Woods’ animal protein ordering total around 135,730 kgCO2e in one month. Results of the waste audit show that Carol Woods composts between 400 and 500 pounds of food waste per day. Additionally, Carol Woods has a significant amount of animal protein in their food waste and beef is a key contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In the Buildings & Facilities sector, Carol Woods’ GHG emissions from electricity consumption over six years stabilize at around 3,100 metric tons annually. The dining building and Building 4 (medical center) account for major parts of the emissions. Natural gas consumption has witnessed a decline from 2017 to 2019, a drop of over 40%. Fifteen vehicles owned by Carol Woods were included in our analysis with the cleanest vehicle being the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica van and the dirtiest being the 1999 Chevrolet C2500. To improve sustainability in its Dining Services, we recommend Carol Woods reduce the amount of animal protein ordered, switch to buying a number of its ingredients locally instead of from large food vendors, increase its internal tracking of recipes and resident complaints, switch to reusable to-go containers, and reconsider its approach to food disbursement and handling of leftover foods. As for improving sustainability in Buildings & Facilities, we recommend that Carol Woods perform ongoing maintenance of building equipment, install LED lights in places where they are not currently, expand solar arrays, and establish an energy dashboard for tracking. To make its transportation operations more sustainable, we recommend Carol Woods conduct an annual transportation survey for institutional fleets, residents, and employees, and purchase a hybrid van and electric truck to replace the most polluting vehicles they currently have. To continue gaining a deeper understanding of Carol Woods’ environmental impact, we suggest multiple avenues for further research. For Dining Services, we recommend that an updated purchase audit be conducted to align with their most recent menu. We also recommend continuing the waste audit, which we believe is an ideal opportunity for residents to get involved. Lastly, further research should be conducted to better understand the sustainability certifications held by food suppliers and which foods are most beneficial to buy locally. For Buildings & Facilities, we recommend that Carol Woods implement the use of the Energy Use Index (EUI) and conduct a more in-depth study of the Siemens electricity data to better interpret the variations in energy usage across the campus.

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Guo, Xinyi, and Chelsea Sloggy (2022). Evaluating an Environmental Sustainability Program and Related Metrics at a Continuing Care Retirement Community. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/24910.


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