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

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 2019/20

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.

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

Progress against 2018-19 targets and full historical data:

1) Absolute emissions

Scope 1 & 2 absolute emissions* (tCO2e) decreased 11% between 2017-18 and 2018-19, and 14 % from the baseline year (2008/9) which is welcome.  However, we are still significantly missing our target of 40% by 2020 from a 2008/9 baseline. See figure one. We consumed less gas and electricity last year 16,092 MWh compared to 15,158 MWh this year, which is pleasing.

Electricity carbon emissions reduced 18% from last year. This is the first time we have achieved a significant reduction in electricity use 6,018 MWh to the 5,465 MWh a reduction of 9%. More UK electricity is generated from renewable sources so everyone’s carbon emissions from electricity went down by 9%.

Gas carbon emissions reduced 3.8% from last year as did consumption from 10,073 MWh to 9,692 MWh.  The year was slightly warmer with 4% fewer degree-days.

Fleet carbon emissions decreased 17% from last year however; they are up 15% from our baseline.  Diesel consumption reduced from 12,689 to 9,555 litres, petrol has remained similar.  Continued reduction is the result of replacing our fleet vehicles to electric.

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

Emissions intensity has decreased by 9% (energy intensity reduced 3.4%) compared to last year and 46% 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. Our recruitment declined slightly by 2.5%. We now have 9,304 full time equivalent students and staff on campus compared to 5,868 in our baseline year.

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

Emissions intensity – floor space has decreased by 11% (energy intensity reduced 5.9%) compared to 2016-17 and by 50% 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. We handed back a small residential hall but opened the Art House the buildings are of a similar square meterage.

Scope 3 - indirect carbon emissions

Scope 3 emissions* have increased 23% last year, this is predominantly due to changes in our commute travel emissions for both staff and students and 16% from the base year (2012/13). Therefore, we are significantly failing to meet our targets. See figure one.

It is important to note one of the two primary contributors to these indirect emissions, procurement, does depend on spend each year. Therefore, if we spend more emissions go up. A factor arguably the university has more influence over is staff and student commuting to campus. Unfortunately, these emissions have increased by 43% in the past year; more people are driving on their own to campus. See figures 1 & 2 below.

Full details are shown in the tables below highlights include:

  • St Johns Campus (SJC) reduced electricity from 3,899 MWh to 3,561 MWh a reduction of 8.6%.
    • 1,283 lights converted to LED on SJC for example 18.5 MWh saved in Woodbury Building saving 10% electricity
    • Students’ Union electricity consumption reduced 144MWh during the year due to switching heating from electric to gas.
  • Water has increased 33% back to 2016/17 levels.  The increase was the result of billing errors made on SJC halls meter.  The supplier had been billing the account on actual meter reading since 2017, when in reality the readings were estimates and were underestimated.  All under consumption on the account since 2017 is now resolved during this reporting period.
  • The percentage of staff driving themselves to campus increased from 57% to 66% and students driving on their own to campus also significantly increased from 29% to 41%. Car share, bus use and walking have all declined.
  • Weights have reduced for both black and green waste streams, e.g. black down from 206 to 158 tonnes. Carbon emissions from waste has reduced from 12.2 to 9.1 GHGe, 25.49%.






Figure 1: The graphs above show the university total carbon footprint broken down between direct (scope 1 & 2) and indirect (scope 3) carbon emissions. Year on year comparison of carbon emission targets against our actual absolute emissions.



Figure 2: The graph above shows the university total carbon footprint for all scopes direct (scope 1 & 2) and indirect (Scope 3) carbon emissions. Year on year comparison of carbon emission targets against our actual absolute emissions.