At Coventry University we acknowledge that climate change is a long-term threat to society globally and that we have a clear obligation to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases, of which carbon dioxide is the largest contributor.
We’ve been actively managing carbon emissions since 2010 when we agreed our first Carbon Management Plan and established a 2005/06 baseline against which future carbon reduction measures would be assessed. We are currently developing our revised Carbon Management Plan in which we expect to include a commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions.
In addressing this global issue we recognise significant changes are needed, and we will continue to evolve in our approach as we find new and better ways to operate, working with others locally and globally to ensure we are progressive and innovative in transitioning to a cleaner, greener future.
How it's measured
To assess the carbon emissions of the University we need to look at where they originate, whether it’s directly from the burning of fuels, or the use of electricity, or from indirect sources such as emissions resulting from travel, use of water and disposal of waste. These various emissions are classed as either scope 1, 2, or 3: the information below outlines which activities contribute to each scope of emissions and how these come together to form the overall carbon footprint of the University.
Coventry University carbon footprint
Petrol and Diesel
Purchased grid supplied electricity
Purchased goods and services
Water use and disposal
Leased buildings and accommodation providers
Commuting - students and staff
While scope 1 and 2 emissions mainly arise at the time of use, scope 3 emissions include carbon generated from upstream activities such as student and staff commuting, business travel, purchased goods and services - as well as downstream activities such as the disposal of waste and treatment of waste water.
We measure and report on scopes 1 and 2 plus scope 3 emissions from business travel, commuting, waste, water use and disposal, and leased building/accommodation providers. We’re currently developing our approach to more accurately assess scope 3 emissions from our procurement of goods and services.
Our challenge has been to continue to manage carbon emissions at the same time as both the size of the campus and student numbers have grown significantly over the last 15 years. The chart below shows our scope 1 and 2 emissions from the baseline year of 2005/06 to 2019/20. Despite the size of the campus growing by 60% (orange line) and staff and student numbers more than doubling (green line) – our carbon footprint remained similar at just under 12,000 tonnes per year.
We achieved this by improving the energy efficiency of our buildings, particularly residential ones, using low carbon fuels where possible, and by generating energy from renewable sources as well as from combined heat and power units.
For 2019/20 residential accommodation accounted for 23% of the University’s scope 1 and 2 emissions, this includes accommodation owned by the University and by external providers. This proportion has varied over the years but has recently reduced as newer, more energy efficient accommodation has been provided.
How we’re reducing our carbon emissions
We regularly review the actions and improvements we can take to reduce energy use, carbon emissions and generate more renewable energy, examples of how we’re doing this include:
- Solar photovoltaic panels on five major buildings generating zero carbon electricity
- Combined Heat and Power units at eight locations efficiently producing heat and electricity
- Ground source cooling at the Hub avoiding the use of air conditioning
- Biomass boilers in two locations burning low carbon wood pellets
- Regular student and staff energy efficiency campaigns
- Requiring new build premises to achieve the BREEAM Excellent standard e.g. the Alison Gingell and Engineering and Computing buildings, and the Hub
- Increasing the number of electric vehicles on our fleet reducing fossil fuel use
- Using a “soft landings” approach for new buildings to help ensure real world energy use and carbon emissions are as close as possible to what was designed
- A new Green Lab Group set up by students and staff to improve the sustainability of our laboratories
- Delivering Carbon Literacy training to students and staff to equip them to help cut carbon where they work and study as well as at home
- We have dedicated courses on energy management and students use our campus as a ‘living lab’ conducting real life projects on energy and carbon management
- Working with students and staff to monitor and develop the actions in our carbon management plan, for example around reducing energy use in student accommodation and scope 3 emissions from travel.
In addition, our research institutes are strongly aligned to tackling the most significant global challenges we currently face. The Research Institute for Clean Growth & Future Mobility considers innovation and technological change to support low carbon transformation with a focus on transitioning cities to a clean, low carbon future. Climate change and resilience forms the basis of much of the research carried out by the Research Institute for Sustainability, Equity & Resilience. The institute has a focus on sustainable communities, equity and agroecology – supporting sustainable food production in a local and global context.
To find out more about renewable energy and sustainability features please view our google map.