University of Hull ahead of ambitious 2027 carbon neutral target

The University of Hull is currently ahead of its target to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2027.

Since 1990/91, the University has reduced its scope one and two carbon footprint from a baseline figure of 19,090 tonnes of carbon to 10,402.

The University of Hull.
The University of Hull.

A large proportion of that saving has been made in the last five years, with several key infrastructure projects contributing to the reduction.

This includes the installation of rooftop solar panels as well as combined heat and power plants on campus which supply electricity to student accommodation complexes The Courtyard and Westfield Court, and the University’s Allam Medical Building.

The latest annual carbon output is significantly lower than the 12,599 benchmark the University had to hit this year to remain on track for its 2027 carbon neutral target.

Professor Susan Lea, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull, said: “These latest figures demonstrate the firm commitment made by our University to become a carbon neutral business in time for our centenary anniversary in 2027.

“The University – alongside the Humber region and indeed the UK – is on an ambitious journey to zero-carbon. Sustainability is integral to our values, and forms the core of our entire business strategy.

“As a University with one of the most ambitious low-carbon roadmaps not only in the UK, but in the world, we are excited by the opportunities the transition to carbon neutral presents, both in terms of student learning and research.”

In the last reporting year, the University reduced its electricity consumption by 7.4% and its gas consumption by 4.1%, with further significant year on year reductions planned over the next six years. 

Scope one and two carbon emissions – both direct emissions created by the university campus and indirect emissions from electricity purchased and used by the organisation – have fallen significantly in the last six years, from 17,699 tonnes in 2014/15 to 10,402 tonnes in 2019/20.

The University last year commissioned Siemens to jointly develop a comprehensive roadmap of how to reach carbon neutral status in time for 2027.

Stephen Dale, Director of Estates and Facilities at the University of Hull, said: “This project, working alongside Siemens, is an integral part of our strategy to become carbon neutral in time for our centenary anniversary in 2027.

“Aligned to development of the University’s exciting new Estate Strategy which will outline how the campus will be developed over the next 10 years, the masterplan will highlight both changes we can make to our existing operations on campus, to drive down carbon emissions, as well as a range of significant infrastructure projects to help us reach our ambitious goal.”

The 2027 masterplan is split into three parts – reduce, produce and living lab.

‘Reduce’ focuses on improving energy efficiencies of existing infrastructure across campus – including enhanced energy management software and smart metering, upgrading building fabric and infrastructure and changing student and staff behaviours.

The second phase, ‘Produce,’ looks at new, renewable ways to power the campus estate. This includes solar, wind, heat pump and hydrogen technologies.

More details on these projects will be revealed in the months ahead.

‘Living Lab’ will transform the campus into a living laboratory creating significant teaching, learning and research opportunities across the University, putting sustainability at the heart of the strategy.

It is hoped the University’s own journey to carbon neutrality will help inspire the next generation of scientists and experts to help tackle climate change.

Other foci of the 2027 ambition include development of a fully instrumented on-campus sustainable drainage network, increasing biodiversity on the campus, increasing recycling rates, including further reductions in the use of single-use plastics, implementing sustainable business processes and operations and encouraging students and staff to make sustainable travel choices.

More information on the University’s 2027 carbon neutral ambition can be found by visiting https://www.hull.ac.uk/special/carbon-neutral

[Phil Winter – University of Hull]

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