USW is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040. This is part of our USW Carbon Strategy, which recognises that decarbonisation is an essential requirement to operate and maintain a sustainable university environment – part of our 2030 strategy. Our ten-year roadmap sets out how we will work towards this goal.
We are initially focusing on addressing carbon emissions that are generated by our procurement of goods and services, as well as through our electricity and gas consumption. Water consumption, emissions from waste, business travel and low carbon travel, as well as policy and behavioural change will also be addressed.
Some changes have already been introduced that have started to have a positive impact, including introducing LED lights, solar panels, biodegradable packaging options in catering facilities and switching to some local suppliers. Our carbon footprint has already reduced by 32% since 2012/13.
We are constantly working to embed sustainability into all aspects of University life. This includes encouraging all colleagues and students to become a member of Turn USW Green – a website and app which rewards sustainable ways of working and living, with everyone in our community getting the chance to earn ‘Green Points’ for their small, everyday actions. Each month, Turn USW Green rewards the top earning teams or individuals with a range of prizes, as well as donating to charities.
Our courses also cover sustainable themes from all angles, including geography, conservation, environmental management, civil engineering and renewable energy.
Beyond our business activity, we have long been committed to research in this area, with the Sustainable Environment Research Centre (SERC) undertaking national and world-leading research into waste treatment and the sustainable production of energy from waste and grown biomass. It brings together leaders from biology, engineering, chemistry, and physics in a single academic team combining their resources and skills in order to address major energy and environmental R&D challenges.
In Baglan, researchers at our Hydrogen Centre work with major industry partners to identify methods of decarbonisation, particularly through the adoption of hydrogen technologies.
In 2020, we helped to establish and develop the South Wales Industrial Cluster, working as the academic lead with industrial partners to identify the best options for cost-effective decarbonisation of industry in South Wales.