The current position
The University has made progress in recent years. In 2015/2016, our carbon footprint was 69,591 tCO2 e; by 2018/2019 the figure had reduced to 60,358 tCO2 e – a decrease of 13.27%. This is largely attributed to increased efficiencies from the introduction of the Combined Heat & Power (CHP) system and the decarbonisation of the national grid. These figures include Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) emissions, and also some Scope 3 emissions such as business travel.
However, looking forward, our next publicly stated target (as per our public sector climate change duties report) is a reduction in emissions to 55,500 tCO2 e by 2020/2021; this would entail reducing emissions by 20% from a 2015/16 baseline. We expect to meet this target but only because the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically reduced commuting and business travel since March 2020.
Shrinking our carbon footprint
According to the consultants, if the University maintained its pre-Covid-19 trajectory, our carbon footprint would rise to 64,940 tCO2 e by 2035 and to 75,366 tCO2 e by 2045. Instead of this, we have identified a series of actions which, taken together, would reduce our carbon footprint to ca. 32,000 tCO2 e by 2035. The professional advice is that further reductions below this level would be hard to achieve, but that we could aim to hold steady at that level thereafter. The graph below displays the potential reductions in carbon emissions until 2045 (starting with the pre-coronavirus assumption that we would miss our 2020 target of 55,000 tCO2 e).
The following are put forward as the type of actions which collectively will allow us to achieve a significant reduction in our carbon footprint:
- Energy efficiency improvements involving heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC); lighting; insulation; and fabric improvements to specific buildings. These could reduce emissions by 4,200 tCO2 e over ten years.
- Installation of a Water Source Heat Pump (WSHP) at the Garscube Campus in 2025. This is projected to displace 2,375 tCO2 e.
- Installation of a WSHP at Gilmorehill in 2030 projected to displace 3,800 tCO2 e.
- Deployment of an Air Source Heat Pump in suitable standalone buildings.
- Introduction of solar panels in suitable locations.
The total cost of these works is estimated at ca. £60m, exclusive of fees and inflation. In addition, we are assuming further grid decarbonisation, no further expansion of the estate beyond the old Western Infirmary site, and a reduction in business travel flights and commuting emissions of 3% per annum until 2035, then stabilisation. Lastly, the numbers assume that the University’s staff and student headcount will grow by only 3% a year over the period.
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