Policy and Progress


The University of South Wales is a major institution and has an important role to play in environmental stewardship and sustainability.  As an institution, we are committed to sustainability. This is embedded within our Core Values; Professional, Responsive, Creative, Inspiring and Collaborative.  It also ensures we meet the requirements of the Welsh Government’s Well-being of Future Generations Act.

USW aims to be carbon neutral by 2040.

The Executive Team approved the proposal by the University’s Estates and Facilities team as decarbonisation is recognised as an essential requirement to operate and maintain a sustainable university environment - part of our USW 2030 strategy.

The UK government passed laws in 2019 to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The UK’s 2050 net zero target — one of the most ambitious in the world — was recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, the UK’s independent climate advisory body. The Welsh Government also set out its legal commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 last month.

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.

This Carbon Footprint report forms a key step in University of South Wales’ (USW) climate emergency response and sets out a number of strategic actions that USW should work towards in order to achieve their carbon reduction ambitions. 

The University of South Wales has several published policies and strategies in place:

Biodiversity Action Plan Aims

  • Engage and support participation and understanding in biodiversity. 
  • Protect species and habitats of special importance
  • Constantly improve our evidence, understanding and reporting of biodiversity

Energy Management Policy

  • Sets out our position as a major user of energy and the responsibility associated with this
  • Explains the benefits of reducing our energy
  • Lists the aims by which a reduction is to be achieved

Space Temperature Policy

  • Communicates the heating and cooling policy for the University
  • Brings together comfort requirements with consideration of the environmental impact of heating and cooling space
  • Gives advice on energy saving and your comfort around the University

Halls of Residence Temperature Policy

  • The university heating season generally runs from 1st October to 1st May each year. 
  • Student halls of residence will be heated from 6am to 10am and 3.30pm to 11pm seven days a week. 
  • Our halls of residence do not have mechanical cooling. Natural ventilation is available through opening windows as required. 

USW Environmental Policy 

  • Demonstrates our commitment to the USW Carbon Strategy targets and USW Roadmap to Net Zero 
  • Outlines our 6 strategic targets to be met by 2030 
  • Sets a number of broad objectives in each of the key areas we are committed to reducing our impact 

 USW 2020-2030 Carbon Strategy 

  • Demonstrates our commitment to decarbonisation 
  • Sets our ambition to be carbon neutral by 2040 
  • Sets six strategic targets against the areas that require the most focus to achieve net zero 
  • Outlines our progress made to date and how we will monitor our emissions 

 USW Carbon Roadmap 

  • Considers the actions across the university that need to be taken to decarbonise 
  • Sets a number of key milestones for USW to achieve to remain on track to net zero 
  • Documents a roadmap of clear, feasible and cost-effective actions to net zero 

Financial Resource for Sustainability

The University recognises that it has an important part to play in reducing its carbon emissions as an environmentally responsible institution.  Each year, a budget is provided to the Sustainability Team to implement a variety of environmental initiatives which are supported within our Sustainability Strategy.  Examples of how this budget has been used to date include LED lighting upgrades, solar PV installations, electric vehicle charging point installations, upgrades to window seals, thermal insulation of pipework, installation of utility sub meters, upgrade of waste bins and waste signage, awareness and engagement materials, and improved bike shelters to name a few.  Current and future budget will be utilised to implement environmental improvements which support our journey to decarbonisation. 

Staff Inductions

Sustainability is embedded throughout the University.  Staff inductions include key sustainability messages and direct staff to relevant resources and information on how they can help us achieve our goals, targets and ambitions. 

Plans and Publications

The University recognises the importance of reducing its environmental impact and carbon footprint.  Therefore, we have developed a number of key documents to demonstrate our commitment to this and ensure we remain on target to achieve our objectives: 

USW Biodiversity Action Plan 2019-2022

USW Energy Management Policy

USW Space Temperature Policy

Halls of Residence Temperature Policy

USW Environmental Policy

USW 2020-2030 Carbon Strategy

2030 Carbon Roadmap

USW - Carbon Footprint FY 2018-19

Sustainable Food Safety Policy

Collaborative Procurement

We are members of the Higher Education Purchasing Consortium, Wales (HEPCW) and use several other government schemes and frameworks. 

About HEPCW 

The Higher Education Purchasing Consortium, Wales (HEPCW) is a purchasing consortium supported and funded by Welsh Higher Education institutions (HEIs) that promotes procurement best practice and training via the HE and wider public network.  

Funded by members, for members, it embraces an inclusive working methodology, and strives to deliver policies which support the delivery of members’ strategic objectives in an increasingly competitive and challenging environment. 

We currently benefit from access to over 100 collaborative agreements across a range of commodities including, but not limited to: IT hardware and software, buildings and estates, books and publications, catering, fixed and mobile telecommunications, laboratory equipment, office products, office and residential furniture, professional services and business travel. 


Despite all of the challenges of 2020, huge strides have been made on the journey to decarbonisation.

August 2021 - July 2022

  • 7 new 100% Electric Vans for our Estates and Facilities maintenance team, with plans to add more by 2023, delivering sustainable transport.
  • Communications team is working on producing a Student and Staff Engagement Strategy for September 2022 intake.
  • Offering students with internships and volunteering opportunities in sustainability area. During 2021-2022, four interns have employed providing a valuable contribution to achieve our carbon neutral target.
  • The installation of two smart solar benches at our Treforest Campus; one at the patio opposite FitZone and one on the patio outside Crawshays Café.
  • E-bike charging lockers have been introduced at Treforest, Glyntaff, Cardiff and Sports Park to encourage students and staff to use sustainable travel.
  • Reusable Huskee Cups introduced by Catering Services, in a bid to remove all unnecessary plastic waste. Also, providing glasses at water fountains and wash stations for customers to wash reusable containers.
  • 4-Stream waste bins have been provided  across all campuses for waste separation, greatly reducing waste being sent to landfill.
  • The University is working in partnership with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) as an ambassador for its national Pack for Good scheme. There are now even more donation points across all campuses. The scheme is in response to a real need from both universities and local authorities to reduce the volume of waste entering landfill every year from university students.
  • 12 additional Solar photovoltaic panels installed at Student Accommodation,  Cardiff Campus and  the Sport Park.
  • We have recently sourced a solution for recycling of batteries, with new containers located across all campuses. Each full container will divert approx. 55kg of general waste to recycled waste, which  brings us closer to our recycling target.
  • Making it mandatory for suppliers to registration on Net Positives, online tool to record their progress on sustainable practices in order to choose the best alternatives.

August 2020 - July 2021

  • The first USW Carbon Footprint was produced, for the year 2018-2019. An accurate footprint is a critical first step in our journey to decarbonisation.
  • An automated system was created to monitor energy consumption. This provides daily alerts of water leaks and significant over-use of energy, allowing efficient monitoring and resolution of issues.
  • All heating and cooling pipework across all campuses have been thermally insulated. 
  • The University has pledged to be Carbon Neutral by 2040. A Carbon Strategy and Roadmap have been produced to support this process.
  • A sustainability committee has been set up, along with several sustainability focus groups.

August 2019 - July 2020

  • Electric vehicle charging stations have been introduced at Cardiff, Treforest and the Sports park. The University of South Wales purchases 100% of it’s electricity from renewable sources.
  • Green spaces have been added where buildings were removed on Treforest. Grasses, plants, cherry laurel and field maples improved biodiversity at Treforest.
  • Bins have been changed to waste separation bins, which greatly reduces waste to landfill.
  • LED Lighting upgrades have been made in Stilts, Ferndale and Treforest Sports Centre.
  • Solar photovoltaic panels were added to the Treforest sports centre. This is in addition to existing arrays on Pen-y-Fan halls of residence roof and Sports Park 2 building, as well as solar thermal panels on Treforest Students Union and Sports Park 1 buildings.
  • Catering introduced wooden cutlery instead of plastic, as well as biodegradable boxes. New reusable containers have been introduced, for both food and water, with a 25p levy being charged on disposables. Starbucks also introduced paper straws, and glasses were added at water stations.

Well-being of Future Generations

As a public body, we work to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act goals, as shown in the diagram below.



USW stocks Fairtrade hot chocolate at its catering outlets, as well as Rainforest Alliance Certified PG Tips Teabags. The majority of coffee sold is also Fairtrade. We also stock several Fairtrade chocolates and snacks. 

EAUC; The Alliance for Sustainability leadership in Education

The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) is an alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, and USW is a member of it along with over 200 other UK institutions.  

Members of the sustainability team regularly attend meetings through the EAUC in which staff from universities and colleges across Wales can share ideas and implement best practice across the sector.    

EAUC membership at an institution level also allows all staff and students to join! This gives you access to a wealth of sustainability materials, such as webinars and publications as well as networking opportunities. 

For more information visit the EAUC homepage.