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University of York reduces its carbon footprint

Posted on 14 November 2019

The University of York has reduced its carbon emissions by 38 per cent.

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The University developed a Carbon Management Plan in 2011, in a bid to significantly reduce carbon emissions year on year.

Latest figures from the 2018/19 academic year reveal the University’s carbon footprint reduced by 38 per cent, achieved through a combination of energy efficiency improvements and behaviour change.

On track

The institution is on track to achieve its own target of a 43 per cent per m2 reduction by 2021. The University report against energy use by floor area (kWh/m2) to ensure the entire campus is factored into the carbon footprint measure.

At his inaugural speech, Vice-Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery announced that the University no longer holds investments in fossil fuel companies, a move welcomed by student campaigners and seen as a further step toward the University becoming a more sustainable organisation.

In addition, the University has undergone significant behavioural and operational changes, from ensuring all electricity brought through the grid comes from guaranteed renewable sources, to more energy efficient buildings across campus. All of the university’s purchased electricity is from renewable sources.

Also, 80 per cent of buildings across campus are now controlled through a central building management system ensuring continued efficiency improvements.

Other initiatives include:

  • Green Impact – Green Impact is an environmental accreditation programme which is run as part of the University's Carbon Management Plan. It is a national programme which rewards green habits in the workplace, and is run by the SOS-UK (Students Organising for Sustainability). Last year's Green Impact engaged 3903 staff and students and produced 1510 sustainability actions.
  • Student Switch Off – Student Switch Off (SSO) is a sustainability campaign run by SOS-UK at the University of York, which aims to encourage students on campus to save energy and water, as well as recycle. In 2018 / 2019 the campaign achieved a 219,560 kWh electricity saving in colleges against the baseline saving. This equates to 67 tonnes of carbon and approximately £26K.
  • Carbon Challenge Campaign - Carbon Challenge: The University of York is the first UK university to take part in the Carbon Challenge initiative with the sustainability charity SOS-UK. Part of the University's overall Green Impact Programme, the three-week Carbon Challenge aims to encourage staff and students to take climate action and reduce carbon emissions, by making positive sustainable choices part of everyday life.

Ambitious plan

Sustainability manager, Mark Clough, said: “Although the University is on track to meet its current carbon reduction target, it won’t stop there and is already planning a new ambitious Carbon Management Plan to take the University forward in further driving down its carbon emissions.

“The University is also developing a new long-term Sustainability Strategy. The strategy will reflect the University’s unique position of being able to enhance sustainability locally and globally through all areas of its teaching and learning, research and campus activities.”

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