What we are doing to reach net zero targets
Today, 12 November, is the last day of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). For the past 12 days, all eyes have been on world leaders who have gathered in Glasgow to discuss how to accelerate collaborative efforts to tackle the climate emergency.
Here at Salford, we recognise the global climate crisis and that climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our society across the globe. As a higher education provider, we have a major role to play in enabling our colleagues and students to respond positively to global challenges through their study, work and life.
We also recognise our responsibilities for the direct impact on the environment as one of the largest organisations in the Greater Manchester region, offering a place of study and work to over 18,500 students and 2,200 colleagues across 27 buildings and around 70 hectares. We have an obligation to reduce our negative impact on our environment, but also an opportunity to demonstrate environmental sustainability through our operations and using our campus as a living laboratory.
We spoke with Bec Bennett, University of Salford Head of Environmental Sustainability, and this what she said.
What are we doing to reach our net zero targets?
Our plan, Striving for a Sustainable Salford, sets out our commitments and builds on the last ten years of action to reduce our operational environmental impact.
Since our first Carbon Management Plan launched in 2011, we have reduced carbon emissions by 70% compared to 2005/6. Decarbonisation of the grid and rationalisation of our Estate has contributed to this and we have also made significant improvements in energy efficiency including a 25% reduction in gas use over the last five years supported by our ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 certified Environmental and Energy Management System. We are very proud of our achievements so far, but we recognise that we need to do more.
Our Plan formalises our commitment to becoming Net Zero Carbon (NZC) by 2038, with an interim target of an 81% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030 (from 2005/6 baseline). Our target is in line with the Greater Manchester science-based target launched in 2018 by the Mayor of Greater Manchester and we have signed up to the UN Race To Zero, a coalition of leading net zero initiatives.
Our commitment to NZC requires us to substantially improve the energy efficiency of our buildings, increase the generation of renewable energy onsite and invest in off-site renewable energy. In the next 12 months we will be developing and initiating a heat decarbonisation plan and updating our energy efficiency plan for our entire estate. We have also initiated the move to zero carbon in our University vehicles with over 20% of our fleet of vans now fully electric and an electric replacement plan in place.
The University's Net Zero Carbon ambition will not just be achieved through our buildings and infrastructure; our people are essential for success. We need to embed consideration of carbon and environmental issues within University decision making at all levels. We recognise that scope 3 emissions form a significant proportion of the University’s carbon impact. We have recently begun formally reporting on our scope 3 emissions and implementing measures to reduce these in sustainable travel, both commuting and business travel, as well as in sustainable purchasing.
Our aim is to practice what we preach. We have some incredibly impactful research taking place in the areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation. We want to ensure we reinforce that through a sustainable campus operation and empowering our colleagues and students can contribute to a more sustainable Salford, Greater Manchester and beyond.
You can find out more about our work to reach our net zero targets and Striving for a Sustainable Salford on our website.
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