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Carbon Emission Targets

Progress against carbon emissions targets 2016-2017


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

1. Absolute emissions
Scope 1 & 2 absolute emissions* (tCO2e) decreased 8% between 2015-16 and 2016-17, however, we consumed very similar amounts of gas and electricity last year; 15.8 MWh compared to 15.9 MWh. Scope 3 emissions* have decreased 15% last year, this is predominantly due to procuring fewer items.


Gas emissions decreased 2% last year, following an increase in the previous year when the gas consumption increased because of an expansion in the number of buildings. Note we’ve had mild winters for the last four years.   Following investment in the St Johns boilers we have seen a decreased consumption of 0.31 MWh from a total consumption is 6.5 MWh.

Electricity emissions reduced 13% against 2015-16.  Total electricity used increased slightly 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.

Fleet emissions increased 11% last year and up by 53% from the baseline year.

2.    In relation to the number of students and staff at the University (tCO2e/FTE)
Emissions intensity has decreased by 12% compared to 2015-16 and by 32% 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 9,144 full time equivalent students and staff on campus compared to 5,868 in our baseline year, increasing 363 last year.

3.    In relation to university buildings – floor space (tCO2e/sqm)
Emissions intensity – floor space has decreased by 8% compared to 2015-16 and by 38% 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.  The Lakeside campus was added to the estate last year which includes a small building 486 sqm taking the total estate to 81,328 square metres of floor space now compared to 47,362sqm in our baseline year.

Scope 3 indirect carbon emissions

Methodologies for data gathering for a number of these 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 spend each year.  Therefore if we spend more emissions go up. Scope 3 emissions have decreased 15.5% last year  as we procured fewer items, but increased by 8% since setting our baseline in 2012-13.  A factor arguably the university has more influence over is staff and student commuting to campus. Worryingly these emissions have increased by 31% in the past year; more people are driving on their own to campus.

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

  • Procurement emissions decreased 37% as a result of reduced spending during the period, from £23m to £15m. That is 8,630 t CO2e.
  • Staff and student commuting increased 31%, equivalent to 7,817 tCO2e due to a greater proportion of staff and students choosing to drive to campus, and travelling further distances.
  • Air travel stabilised following a large increase last year, and this year has decreased 13% and now accounts for 499 tCO2e.
  • Rail travel increased 22% during the period but only accounts for 18t CO2e.
  • Waste and recycling emissions increased 9%, partly due to improvements made in the technique for measuring bin weights.
  • Water usage increased 30%.  Leak detection work by the energy manager ensured repairs were undertaken.    

In the academic year 2016/17 GHGe tonnes of University's total carbon footprint were attributed to its residential accommodation this represents 30.7% of total GHGe emissions.  The University aims to reduce its direct and indirect GHGe emissions by 40% by 2020.

Read the full Carbon Management Strategy.

Carbon reduction targets

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 2020;
  • 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 Environmental Targets 2017-18.

Progress against last year targets