Carbon emissions from University buildings

The University records and reports its Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions primarily from gas used for heating buildings and Scope 2 emissions are indirect, coming mainly from electricity used in buildings.

The University purchases 100% renewable electricity, however its carbon emissions are still measured according to the UK National Grid average carbon emissions, which is in line with the Higher Education Statistics Authority methodology. This means it is not enough to purchase renewable electricity; we must go further, reducing reliance on gas, reducing electricity use and increasing on-site or sourcing locally generated renewable power.

The University aims to reduce its reliance on natural gas, which is mainly used to heat buildings, by replacing gas heat sources across the estate with electric, thereby reducing its Scope 1 emissions. The forecast reduction in carbon from the National Grid makes electricity a lower carbon heat source than gas in the longer term. 

Additional activities include: 

  • Establishing district heating networks at Old Road Campus and the Science Area, and heat pump technology to be used across the estate to increase electrical efficiency.
  • More efficient use of energy by encouraging engagement in energy saving, retrofitting buildings to reduce heat loss and using energy-efficient appliances. These measures will reduce our Scope 2 emissions.
  • Every effort will be made to reduce our emissions as much as possible, however, carbon offsetting will be required to cover residual emissions. Offsetting will only be used from 2030 onwards.

What we're doing

The University aims to construct high efficiency buildings, which adhere to the principles of the Passivhaus methodology. You can find out more at Sustainable Buildings.

What is your building's carbon footprint?

Find out with our new emissions map (accessible through Single Sign-On). The carbon footprint for each building is visualised as a square. Carbon emissions are based on how much energy is used in the building. The bigger your building’s square, the more carbon it emits. Some buildings are much bigger than others so, to keep things fair, the emission map also shows the emission density per m2. The darker the colour, the higher the building’s emissions per m2. 

Most of the laboratory buildings have a high carbon footprint and a high emission density. You can find out how to be more sustainable in your lab by visiting Sustainable Laboratories

We look to:

  • install efficient equipment through mechanical and laboratory optimisation work;
  • reduce energy lost through our networks, ensuring efficient energy production in our boilers including combined heat and power;
  • use building management systems to fine tune our building services; and
  • encourage behaviour change to support energy efficiency.

Where possible we're developing low carbon and renewable sources of energy.

Energy purchasing

We purchase 100% renewable electricity and have on-site generation, which includes over 2,000 solar panels, combined heat and power (CHP) and ground source heat pumps.

Our commitments

  • Roll out a large-scale engagement programme to encourage energy saving across departments.
  • Recover utility cost savings from investments in low carbon technology from departments to finance carbon reduction measures.
  • Introduce a building retrofit programme to maximise energy efficiency.
  • Install heat networks using new energy technology as an alternative to gas.
  • Explore the installation of large-scale photovoltaic systems and locally generated power.

Find out more