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Our University plots path to a sustainable future with new strategy

20 Jul 2023

The new Environmental Sustainability Strategy – developed following extensive consultation with colleagues and students – will continue work towards our zero carbon 2038 target

AGLC and Samuel Alexander building

The Board of Governors has approved a new Environmental Sustainability Strategy which will focus action by our community at all levels as we work towards our zero carbon 2038 target.

The new strategy builds on our University’s core goals of Teaching and Learning, Research and Discovery and Social Responsibility. It stresses the need for all decisions to be taken in the light of our existing carbon commitments.

The strategy highlights six priority operational areas, all linking back to the United Nations Sustainability Goals:

  • Construction and Refurbishment
  • Risk and Climate Resilience
  • Responsible Procurement
  • Resource Management
  • Valuing Nature
  • Travel and Transport

This has been endorsed at the highest level of the University and was developed following extensive consultation with colleagues and students, who shared their views on the action we need to prioritise and where we need to improve.

Our operational carbon footprint has fallen by 35% since 2007, from approximately 81,000 tonnes CO2e to under 53,000 tonnes in 2022, but more needs to be done across all areas of our activity to reach zero carbon by 2038, while cutting emissions as sharply as possible in the run-up to this date.

Professor Nalin Thakkar, Vice-President for Social Responsibility, wants the new strategy to act as a guide for everyone who is part of our community. “Achieving this strategy is a challenge which we must all work towards,” he said. “The University will be allocating significant funds to this, but we must all contribute through the things we do every day at work and by talking to students and colleagues about the things we are doing to make a difference.”

Action already taken includes ending investments in fossil fuel companies and reducing the carbon intensity of our other investment holdings. Our campus runs on 100% renewable electricity and 94% of our waste is diverted from landfill. We’ve recently committed to limiting our business travel emissions to no more than half of pre-COVID levels and so far we’re on track with that.

Action planned for the future includes proposals to increase energy efficiency, make changes to the Old Quad that promote biodiversity and to shift more of our buildings away from gas boilers to heat pumps.

The strategy also contains commitments to further embed sustainability in our curriculum and take advantage of the world-class expertise of our researchers. Training will be developed for all colleagues including leaders to give them the tools to make changes.

You can read the full list of commitments in the strategy which has now been published as a document online.

Professor Thakkar added: “The future that this strategy lays out is one where we have a campus that is rich in nature, with cleaner air and a lighter footprint on the planet. Some of the measures to achieve this are going to be hard, but everyone in the leadership of the University is committed to making the necessary changes and if we all contribute, we have the ability to be far greater than the sum of our individual parts.”

There will be regular updates and progress reports on the environmental sustainability strategy and opportunities to engage in the process. If you would like to find out more, then email

Shortlisted for an award

The Environmental Sustainability Team has been shortlisted for a Green Gown Award in the 2030 Climate Action category. The awards ceremony will take place in November.