Sustainability Strategy

The University declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019.  In September 2020 the University Executive approved a new Sustainability Strategy 2020 - 2030 which reviewed the carbon journey since 2008/9 baseline – pages 14 &15- and projected based on a 1.5-degree warming scenario the university aims to reduce its direct and indirect GHGe emissions to be net zero by 2030 from a new baseline year 2018/19, pages 16-19.                   

Carbon reduction targets   

Carbon reduction SMART targets for 2021/22

The University intends to achieve:

  • 5% p.a. reduction in carbon emissions in Scopes 1, 2 & 3, against a 2018-19 baseline, from 2020 to 2030;

These targets will secure a 50% reduction in emissions from the 2018-19 baseline in a 1.5 degree warming scenario. To achieve net zero emissions by 2030, the remaining emissions will need to be balanced with carbon removals, such as tree planting in managed woodlands, managing university land for maximum soil health and carbon sequestration.  We will contribute to a sector owned carbon offset scheme.

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 2022-23.

Carbon reduction projects completed this year include expansion of our PV capacity by 201% by extending PV on 3 buildings increasing capacity by 272 kWp.  Projects to be completed by March 2023 include renewable energy generation through solar PV, installation of Building Management System (BMS) and smart LED lighting totalling £1,076,628. 

Carbon emissions

Progress against 2021-22 targets and historical data:

Non Carbon Quantitative and Qualitative Targets for all areas

Performance against our overarching carbon emissions targets. The University measures and reports on carbon emissions in three ways:

1. Absolute emission

Scope 1 & 2 absolute emissions* (tCO2e) increased 12% between 2019-20 & 2020-21 but this is still a decline of 2% from the baseline year 2018/19. See figure 1. In absolute terms, the University’s energy consumption of natural gas and electricity increased from 15,157 MWh in 2018/19 to 16,380MWh in 2020-21, representing an 8% absolute increase in energy consumption during the period. To achieve Net Zero against carbon emission targets, energy will need to reduce on average by 8.4% against the 2018/19 baseline year. Heating/gas carbon emission baseline year figure of 1,782 GHGe will need to reduce an average of 149 GHGe tonnes per annum during the life of the strategy. Electricity carbon emission baseline year figure of 1,398 CO2e will need to reduce on average of 117 GHGe tonnes per annum. We are clearly failing to meet our targets. The year was slightly warmer with 4% fewer degree-days. Covid has had a significant affect and we have had to increase air flows in classrooms and by keeping windows open gas consumption and electricity consumption have both increased.

2.Fleet carbon emissions decreased 58.5% from last year; and 71% down from our baseline, 2018/19. Covid has obviously been a hugely significant factor in helping to reduce our fleet absolute emissions over the first two years of setting these stretching targets.

In relation to the number of students and staff at the University (tCO2e/FTE and kWh/FTE)There has been a 9% decrease in the number of students and staff full-time equivalent (FTE) since 2018/19. In 2009-2010, the University had a space energy intensity of 288 kWh/m2 GIA which reduced to 171 kWh/m2 GIA by 2019-2020, representing a 41% improvement indicating carbon reduction measures implemented throughout the estate are working. However, if we look at just the last two years the changes are less impressive. We have decreased our electricity emissions by 26% since the base year 2018-19 and just 6% change since last year. If we look at gas emissions these increased by 33% last year and 35% since the base year, due primarily to open windows and increased heating due to Covid.

3.In relation to university buildings – floor space (tCO2e/sqm and kWh/sqm))There has been a very minimal 1% increase in the size of the estate gross internal area (GIA) m2 since last year and a 1.1% increase since the base year. We have 81,904 square metres of floor space on 3 major campuses. Scope 1 & 2 emissions reduced just 2% since the base year and increased 12% since last year.Scope 3 indirect carbon emissions Scope 3 emissions* have decreased by 10% since last year, and 26% from the base year (2018/19). This is due to much reduced travel activity due to Covid for both business use and staff and student commuting. We have produced less waste and purchased fewer items. Full details are in the above links.