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COUNTS - Standardization, further development and communication of greenhouse gas emission balancing of higher education institutions in Lower Saxony

The Sustainability Network of Universities in Lower Saxony (HochNiNa) was founded in 2018 in order to expand sustainability and climate protection at universities. It promotes exchange and cooperation between those responsible for sustainability at universities in Lower Saxony.

Since August 2023, HochNiNa has been coordinating the project COUNTS – Standardization, further development and communication of greenhouse gas balances of Lower Saxony universities –  which is funded by the Ministry of the Environment of Lower Saxony with approximately 210,000 euros over three years.

As part of the project, a common greenhouse gas balancing framework for universities in Lower Saxony will be developed that takes into account the specific circumstances and requirements of universities. On this basis, a freely accessible web-based balancing tool will be developed.


Many universities in Lower Saxony already promote a sustainable transformation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of their institution. A GHG balance and a transparent, transparent framework are important requirements to quantify GHG sources and to identify reduction potentials of the respective university as well as appropriate action.

Currently, the main challenges for universities are the effort required for balancing, data availability, inconsistent balancing frameworks, and different assumptions and methods.

In order to develop solutions for this and to accelerate application-oriented climate protection at universities, the HochNiNa network is carrying out the COUNTS project (standardization, further development and communication of greenhouse gas balances at universities in Lower Saxony) on behalf of the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment (MU).

Project profile


  1. Development and adoption of a uniform accounting framework based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) standard, including clarification of all areas relevant to Scope 3 and standardisation of emission factors.
  2. Preparation of results / communication and exchange / development of information and accounting tool
  3. Support in the application of the accounting framework and preparation of GHG balances
  4. Derivation of measures for GHG reduction

Project phases

Phase 1: Recording of the current status

Period: August 23 - January 24

First of all, the previous GHG balancing at HEIs of Lower Saxony is recorded and the current state is compared with the "Greenhouse Gas Protocol" standard. On the basis of this data, challenges in accounting will be identified and gaps made visible, especially with regard to Scope 3. Finally, this phase of the project will determine the emissions for Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 that the HEIs should take into account in the future.

Phase 2: Balancing Framework & Information and Balancing Tools

Period: February 24 - July 25

In the second phase of the project a common accounting framework for  HEIs in Lower Saxony will be developed which, in addition to identifying suitable emission factors for the respective emission sources, will also include standard values for certain HEI areas where the data basis does not exist or is difficult to access. The aim of these standard values is to reduce the accounting time and effort as well as the complexity in order to lessen the burden on the already overburdened capacities of the university administration and yet to approximately account for relevant emission sources. The resulting GHG balance standard will then be integrated as an information and accounting tool on the project website. The tool, programmed by an external service provider, offers the possibility to enter the values of the specific HEI and to get the resulting GHG emissions displayed in tabular and graphical form as well as to compare the GHG emissions of different HEIs.

Phase 3: Further development of the information and balancing tool

Period: August 25 - July 26

The accounting and information tool developed in the previous project phase will be continuously developed, adapted and updated in the final third project phase. For this purpose, information and advisory workshops on GHG balancing of universities in Lower Saxony will be offered, thus testing and optimising the handling of the tool. Based on the compiled of this project, measures will also be derived that contribute to the achievement of climate neutrality of higher education institutions.


August 2023 - July 2026

Universities involved in the project

  • University of Oldenburg
  • Emden-Leer University of Applied Sciences
  • Leuphana University Lüneburg
  • Georg-August University Göttingen
  • TU Braunschweig
  • University of Osnabrück
  • Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences
  • Hanover University of Applied Sciences
  • TU Clausthal
  • University of Vechta
  • University of Hildesheim


Project coordination & contact

, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

(Changed: 29 Nov 2023)  | 
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