Sustainability Strategy

The University declared a  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

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 2023-24.

Carbon reduction projects delivered across 2022/23 include: the expansion of the University’s Building Management System (BMS) to 5 more buildings, the continued reduction of the University’s space temperature heating from 21C to 19C, lighting upgrades in the Edward Elgar and Charles Darwin buildings, and the installation of a 25.08 kWp roof-mounted solar system on the newly refurbished Elizabeth Garrett Anderson building.

Projects to be completed across 2023/24 include the expansion of the University’s BMS to a further 3 buildings and lighting upgrades in our Riverside Building, totalling £57,000. The University is also applying for external funding to optimise our St John’s Campus heat network, which supplies heat to 6 buildings with a combined area of over 19,000m2.

Carbon emissions

Progress against 2022-23 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 emissions

Scope 1 & 2 absolute emissions* (tCO2e) decreased 13% between 2020-21 & 2021-22 with a decline of 15% from the baseline year 2018/19. See figure 1. In absolute terms, the University’s energy consumption of natural gas and electricity decreased from 16,380MWh in 2020/21 to 14,561MWh in 2021-22, representing an 11% absolute decrease 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 CO2e 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 GHGe will need to reduce on average of 117 GHGe tonnes per annum.  Gas, we are struggling, but this has been driven by increased ventilation requirements with COVID, requiring more energy to heat the rooms to acceptable temperatures while remaining well ventilated. Electricity we are performing well with reduced usage, and an ever-growing suite of PV installations across the university.  The year was warmer with 14% fewer degree-days. 

 Fleet carbon emissions increased 80% from last year; but 47% down from our baseline, 2018/19, largely driven by a return to ‘normality’ following COVID 

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

There has been a 6% 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 156 kWh/m2 GIA in 2021-2022, representing a 46% improvement indicating carbon reduction measures implemented throughout the estate are working.  

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

There has been a large 14% increase in the size of the estate gross internal area (GIA) m2 since last year and a 15% increase since the base year. This is driven by the recognition of Berrows house of which refurb/construction is being finalised, plus acquisition of other sites on Severn campus. These other sites are largely expected to be demolished, pending construction of 2 new teaching buildings in the upcoming years. We have 93,575 square metres of floor space on 3 major campuses. 

Scope 3 indirect carbon emissions

Scope 3 emissions* have Increased by 35% since last year but reduced by 1% from the base year (2018/19). This is due to much restoration of travel activity following Covid for business use. Staff and student commuting has been positive, with very good figures reported in the annual travel survey. Waste has seen a minor increase with more campus activity as the campus has become more active following COVID. Procurement has seen a large jump, driven by major capital projects, namely the construction / refurb of the New Medical School, scheduled to open next year. Procurement emissions are calculated using the HE sector  tool


Full details are in the above links.