COP26: How USW is tackling its carbon footprint

Sustainability generic

With an ambition to be carbon neutral by 2040, the University of South Wales (USW) has introduced a range of initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint.

Since being established in 2013, USW has achieved a 32% reduction in what are known as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions – those that we make directly through things such as boilers and vehicles, and indirect emissions such as the electricity or energy we buy.

But the work done since 2013 has just laid the foundations for cutting our environmental impact.

The university takes sustainability seriously, which is why it has been embedded through our USW 2030 Strategy and we have made the 2040 commitment.

To help us achieve that ambition, a sustainability committee has been established, chaired by our Chief Operating Officer, to provide the leadership, co-ordination, and guidance to promote, develop and implement sustainability initiatives across all areas of the university. 

Six key sustainability focus groups have also been formed which are attended by colleagues and students to develop and implement sustainability initiatives across the university.

USW has been managing its environmental impact for many years and has implemented many environmental initiatives to help support this, such as electric vehicle charging stations, LED lighting upgrades, only purchasing 100% renewable energy, monitoring energy use in each building, new waste streams to reduce contamination, creating landscapes that enhance diversity, transferring funds into environmentally-friendly investments, and working hard on more staff and student engagement.

Over the past 18 months, we have made significant progress in understanding and monitoring our carbon impact.  In 2020, we created our first carbon footprint, using our 2018/19 financial year as our baseline. 

Since then, we have created two further carbon footprints and are monitoring our progress towards our 2040 ambition. 

Using this information, we now know that we have reduced our carbon emissions by 27% since 2018/19, however we realise much of this will be impacted by the global pandemic so we will be monitoring our impact closely over the next year to understand how this has changed our emissions and environmental impact. 

Alice Milanese, Energy and Sustainability Manager at USW, said: “Climate change is widely accepted as one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. USW, like all institutions, has a responsibility to address decarbonisation and to meet the UK and Welsh Government’s decarbonisation targets.

“There is a real drive across the institution to understand any challenges we have in improving our sustainability, and address these issues as quickly as possible.”

Staff and students who want to join USW’s network of sustainability champions and focus groups can find out more at: Get Involved | University of South Wales

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