Carbon, Energy & Water

Carbon Reduction

The university, like all institutions has a responsibility to address decarbonisation and to meet the UK and Welsh Government’s targets.  We recognise this, and we are working on a strategic level to achieve and address decarbonisation.  

In February 2021, our Executive Team signed off the university's ambition to be carbon neutral by 2040.  Net zero means every effort is made to reduce operational emissions and only unavoidable emissions are offset.  A 2020-2030 Carbon Strategy and a ten-year roadmap have been agreed to set out how we will work towards this goal. 

A Sustainability Committee has been established comprised of key university stakeholders including representatives from our Executive Team, Faculties and Student Union.  The Sustainability Committee along with all Faculties and Departments will be responsible for engaging in and promoting sustainable behaviours for the strategy to be successful.  Internal and external resources will be engaged where relevant and as identified, to assist in delivering our targets.

Six focus groups are currently being formed, each with a specific focus to help the university reach net zero. 

All queries can now be sent to this address.


Carbon Strategy and Roadmap

Our 2020-2030 Carbon Strategy compliments the University's 2030 Strategy and forms the overarching governance of our carbon reduction activities and works in parallel with our 10-year carbon roadmap.  It sets six strategic targets against the activities that need most focus on our journey to decarbonisation.  These are:

  • Working with our suppliers to challenge the efficiency of their supply chains by 2030 
  • 50% reduction in our scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2030
  • Reduce our water consumption by 10% by 2030
  • Recycle at least 80% of our waste and avoid 80% of food waste by 2030
  • Creating the processes to understand emissions associated with commuting and set an appropriate reduction target against these
  • Create an internal and external communication plan to engage our community and inform stakeholders throughout our journey to decarbonisation

Our carbon roadmap will take direction from our carbon footprint and outline clear, feasible and cost-effective actions the university can take to advance sustainability across our estate, governance, teaching and engagement, and respond impactfully to the climate emergency. 

The carbon roadmap accompanied by subsequent policies will provide more detail on how we plan to achieve our strategic targets over the next 10 years. 



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 Carbon Roadmap English.JPG

Carbon Footprint Report 2020/2021

We’ve recently created a carbon footprint for the 2020-2021 financial year. As everyone knows, sustainability and carbon reduction is a key theme at the moment. You can’t solve a problem you don’t fully understand. Carbon footprinting is critical to both understanding where we are in our journey to decarbonisation, as well as monitoring our progress.

This new carbon footprint covers April 2020 to March 2021. This period was unprecedented, with a huge amount of campus being closed. The lockdown is clearly visible in our footprint, with the reductions in emissions a result of both deliberate reduction measures, and the mandatory low levels of occupancy across our sites. 2020 to 2021 is a year no one is likely to forget, an anomaly, which we sincerely hope will remain the exception and not the norm. 

Carbon Footprint Report 2018/19

In 2020, the university’s first carbon footprint was produced using 2018/19 financial year data.  It will be used as a baseline for future emission reductions, defining the most impactful areas to tackle in the route to decarbonisation.

Our 2018/19 Footprint is calculated to be 28,480 tCO2e and it has been found that 98% of our total footprint are created by three key emission categories:

  • Procurement contracts to university suppliers (19,217 tCO2e)
  • Electricity consumption in buildings (5,550 tCO2e)
  • Gas consumption in buildings (3,071 tCO2e)

Therefore, it is these three key areas that require the most focus, investment and ambitious targets over the next 10 years.  


Here is some of the progress we have made to date:

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Energy & Water

As mentioned above, energy represents a significant portion of our carbon footprint. We are working in a number of areas to reduce both the impact of our energy consumption and our overall requirement. Everyone can truly make a change to energy reduction. 


 100% of our electricity is procured from renewable sources.

Reducing our reliance on gas, and investing in a low carbon heating fuel is an area of significant interest.



At present USW has solar arrays on five University buildings.

In the summer of 2020, a 100 kW solar photovoltaic array was installed on Treforest Sports centre roof. This adds to PV arrays on Pen Y Fan halls of residence roof Sports Park 2 building, saving a significant amount of emission.

We also have solar thermal arrays on Treforest Students Union and Sports Park 1, which saves over 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.


The University has a comprehensive network of submetering across all sites. Monitoring is critical to minimising energy wastage and helping us use our resources in the most efficient way possible.

Building and upgrades

We have had LED lighting upgrades in several buildings across campus, saving approximately 15 tonnes of CO2/year. Plans to upgrade the majority of the USW estate are also anticipated within the next 1-2 years. 





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