The University aims to reduce its direct and indirect GHGe emissions by 40% by 2020.

Carbon reduction targets

Carbon reduction SMART targets for 2018/19

The University intends to achieve:

  • 5% p.a. reduction in carbon emissions in Scopes 1, 2 & 3, against a 2008-09 baseline, from 2010 to 2015;
  • a 3% reduction p.a. against the 2008-09 baseline from 2015 to 2020;
  • Scope 3 emissions baseline year varies as the envelop has increased.

The profile of reductions reflects the fact that it will become incrementally harder to achieve reductions as improvements take place. These targets will secure a 40% reduction in emissions by 2020 compared to 2008-09 levels. Data and internal reporting targets are set for home to term time student travel.

To meet these targets annual quantitative and qualitative targets are set and the sustainability budget identifies specific projects to be achieved throughout the year. Please see our Sustainability Targets

Carbon emissions

The University measures and reports on carbon emissions in three ways:

1) Absolute emissions

Scope 1 & 2 absolute emissions* (tCO2e) decreased 10% between 2016-17 and 2017-18, and 3.6 % from the baseline year (2008/9) and therefore significantly missing our target of 5% reduction per annum from 2010-2015 and 3% per annum from 2015-2020. See figure one. Despite decreasing our tCO2e we consumed very similar amounts of gas and electricity last year; 16.1 MWh compared to 16.09 MWh. 

Scope 3 indirect emissions* have decreased 12% last year, this is predominantly due to changes in our commute travel emissions for both staff and students and decreased 5% from the base year.  Therefore we are beginning to make inroads into tackling these indirect emissions, but are not yet on track to meet our absolute targets. See figure one.


Carbon targets graphs


2) In relation to the number of students and staff at the University (tCO2e/FTE)

Emissions intensity has decreased by 17% compared to 2016-17 and by 41% since our 2008-09 baseline year.  This measure indicates that whilst we have more people using our buildings, the carbon reduction initiatives on electricity and gas are making a difference, albeit slowly. Our recruitment success means that student and staff numbers continue to increase.  We now have 9,541 full-time equivalent students and staff on campus compared to 5,868 in our baseline year, increasing 397 last year.

3) In relation to university buildings – floor space (tCO2e/sqm)

Emissions intensity – floor space has decreased by 9% compared to 2016-17 and by 44% since our 2008-9 baseline year, we are using less energy per square metre, due to the number of carbon savings initiatives we have introduced across campus.  No new buildings were added to the estate last year the minor change in square meterage is due to more accurate measuring.

Breakdown of carbon emissions

Electricity emissions

Electricity emissions reduced 20% against 2016-17.  Total electricity used decreased by 0.11 MWh across the university. Emissions reductions are due to a change in the conversion factor because in the UK we now have more renewable energy sources providing our electricity.

Gas emissions

Gas emissions increased 3% last year, following a small decrease in the previous year when the gas consumption decreased because of an investment in newer boiler plant.  Note we’ve had mild winters* for the proceeding last four years but we had early snows in October and widespread cold weather coming right at the end of the season. This meant an increased consumption of 0.3 MWh from the previous year because of extending the heating season.  Our total gas usage for the year was 10.1 MWh.

Fleet emissions

Fleet emissions decreased 9.5% last year and up by 39% from the baseline year. The increase from the baseline is due to University growth and our increased requirement for more vehicles. The fleet is slowly converting to be fully electric as we renew vehicles.

Emissions data

Data gathering for a number of scope 3 categories is more robust and has been applied consistently since 2012-13.  However it is important to note one of the two primary contributors to these indirect emissions, procurement, does depend on spending each year.  Therefore if we spend more emissions go up. Scope 3 emissions have decreased by 5% since setting our baseline in 2012-13. 

Staff and students commuting to campus

A factor arguably the university has more influence over is staff and student commuting to campus.  Happily, these emissions have decreased by 26% in the past year; fewer people are driving on their own to campus. There was a greater use of coach and rail travel, and 50% fewer taxi journeys compared to last year.  As both rail and coach are more sustainable modes of transport these changes are seen as positive. Air travel did reduce last year by 10% but from the base year 2012/13 it is still 78% higher.

Emission reports

Year on year comparisons may not give a true picture. Full details are shown in the full progress reports below; highlights include:

  •          There was a slightly higher spend on procurement but a 4% reduction in carbon emissions. The majority of spending last year was from business services (lower carbon factor) compared to the previous year where our most significant spends were from construction projects which have higher carbon emissions.
  •          Staff and student commuting decreased 26%, equivalent to 5,748 tCO2e due to a fewer proportion of staff and students choosing to drive to campus.
  •          Waste and recycling emissions decreased by 35%, partly due to more waste being used to create energy.
  •          Water usage decreased by 26%. Leak detection work and a continuation of small water saving projects throughout the estate is bearing fruit. 

In the academic year 2017/18, 1,114 GHGe tonnes of University's total carbon footprint was attributed to its residential accommodation, which represents 30.7% of total GHGe emissions. 


A graph of carbon emission targets


Progress against 2017 - 18 targets and full historical data 

Read the full Carbon Management Strategy.