Decarbonisation is recognised as an essential requirement to operate and maintain a sustainable University environment for all. The University, like all institutions has a responsibility to address decarbonisation; and to meet the UK Government’s target to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and strive towards achieving the Welsh Governments ambition for a carbon neutral public sector by 2030. We are embarking on our journey to decarbonisation and are currently in the early stages of identifying and understanding our emissions from our Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 operations. Scope 1 refers to direct emissions, such as from natural gas and petrol. Scope 2 is emissions from electricity and scope 3 is all other emissions. Over the coming months, our carbon footprint will be published and a roadmap will be developed to outline how the University intends to reduce its emissions. To achieve net zero, ambitious changes will be required and this can only be met though a collaborative partnership across all levels of the University, including senior leadership and student engagement.
Our Carbon roadmap will be developed in alignment with our University vision, internal sustainability policies/working practices along with the Welsh and UK Government’s commitments for decarbonisation. Our emissions reduction will be driven through the six broad key activities below:
1. Energy - Investment in energy efficient plant and infrastructure and considering renewable/low carbon energy generation.
2. Waste - Implementing initiatives that reduce waste, boost awareness and encourage a circular economy.
3. Construction/Refurbishment - Maximise opportunities to construct energy efficient buildings and consider the carbon footprint of future construction activities.
4. Travel - Promoting and encouraging low carbon/active travel.
5. Biodiversity - Increase the carbon storage in natural and built environment through increased woodland.
6. Procurement and supply chain – understand the impacts of our supply chain and work with our suppliers to reduce this wherever possible.
Alongside these, carbon reduction and sustainability activities will be promoted and communicated throughout the University to increase awareness and engage with our staff and students in activities to help them reduce their individual carbon footprint while at campus, and at home.
The University of South Wales was formed in 2013, therefore the 2012/13 financial year has been chosen as our base year for comparisons to be made against, as this is our first year of data as USW. The data from our 2017/18 Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA) submission shows that although the University’s estate is now 27% larger than in 2012/2013, we have achieved a 13% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions. These emissions have reduced from 10,995 tCO2 in 2012/13 to 9,569 in 2017/18. This reduction is the result of a number of to improvements in plant and equipment, investment in energy efficiency measures and better working practices through more control of our Building Management System (BMS). Further carbon reductions have also been experienced as a result of a reduction in our utility consumption, as well as the grid carbon factor reducing due to the decarbonisation of the grid.
Significant investment in our utility monitoring equipment has now enabled us to better monitor and target our Scope 1 and 2 emissions. This in conjunction with the creation of our carbon footprint will provide greater clarity on where we need to focus our reduction efforts to ensure we stay aligned with our decarbonisation requirements.