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The University of Southampton

Managing carbon

Goal 1 of our Sustainability Strategic Plan aims to achieve net zero emissions for Scope 1 and 2 by 2030. Our Executive Director for Estates & Facilities, Kevin Argent, is leading on this Goal across our operations.

Our aim is to create an ambitious 'roadmap to net zero'. The roadmap will set interim 2027/28 emissions reduction targets and include initiatives to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions, such as retrofitting our buildings to make them more energy efficient, switching to a renewable electricity tariff and de-carbonising our sources of heat, to ensure we achieve net zero by 2030.

Goal 1 Target:
• Scope 1 & 2 emissions: “Net zero by 2030”
• Interim: reduced to 1,888 Tonnes CO2e by 2027/28

We have reduced our carbon emissions by switching our electricity tariff to electricity generated from a renewable supply, such as wind and solar. This switch reduced it by approximately 4,000 T CO2 or around 18% of our 2020/21 Scope 1 & 2 emissions. The latest University Emissions report shows that our overall greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) increased by 12% from 2018/19 to 2021/22 largely due to gas use returning to normal levels and growth in post-COVID supply chain emissions. However, within this Scope 1* and Scope 2* emissions (key performance indicators for the Sustainability Strategic Plan) have reduced by 20% since 2018/19.

You can read more about some of the energy saving projects we’ve invested in over the last decade in our Carbon Managment Plan.

We have more than 1,000 utility meters across our estate and the majority of these are read automatically throughout the day by a series of data loggers. This means that we are able to spot data anomalies quickly and have the ability to measure the impact of carbon-saving projects over time.

Our buildings are responsible for the vast majority of our energy usage, and behind the scenes we collect and analyse a large amount of data to show how each space is performing.This means that data anomalies can be spotted quickly and the University has the ability to measure the impact of carbon-saving projects over time.

Guidance documents are also available for new build projects and refurbishment projects. All renovations and new builds are following energy efficiency standards as part of the roadmap to net zero Scope 1 & 2 emissions by 2030. This is being prepared within the estates strategic plan which is being supported by the consultancy CBRE, where reductions are expected between 2022 and 2026 following building refurbishment and estate master planning. All contractors are to be made aware of environmental issues and have in place procedures to minimise their impact on the environment through the following documents:

Guidance for Contractors

Sustainable Buildings Policy

Net Zero

We are working towards a target of net zero carbon emissions for scope 1 and 2 by 2030.


We are developing a roadmap of how to achieve this target, which will include investing in existing building stock to be more efficient, developing future buildings to be a low-energy design and ensuring that we have targets to reduce scope 3 emissions.

Heat and power

The University has its own power plant on Highfield Campus, generating electricity that’s used across the site for heat and power.

While many power plants will waste heat by releasing it into the sea or as steam into the air, we capture it and distribute it in a series of pipes underneath the campus - called a district heating system. This is used to heat water, buildings and even the swimming pool.

The Combined Heat and Power plant (CHP) was a significant investment for the University that has saved thousands of tonnes of carbon over more than a decade.

You can help us manage our energy usage and carbon emissions in a number of ways:

1. By ensuring that unnecessary equipment and lights are switched off when not in use

2. Ensuring that windows are closed tightly during the winter to ensure that our heating systems are efficient

3. Ensuring that windows are closed in the summer in air-conditioned rooms, to maximum efficiency for cooling

4. Considering whether the use of personal heaters in the winter are necessary - they consume large amounts of energy and wearing an extra layer will save huge amounts of carbon 



We use a tool called a Building Management System to tell us how comfortable workspaces are for students and staff. If you notice that a space is uncomfortably hot or cold, we encourage you to log a Planon request so that the Estates team can take a look for you and hopefully remove the need for extra energy intensive heating or cooling.

Sustainability is incorporated into the design of our new and refurbished buildings to improve energy efficiency. This includes high levels of insulation and air tightness so that the buildings require less heat in the winter.

The principles that we ask our building contractors to work to are outlined in our Sustainable Buildings Policy.

You may see two types of energy certificate across our campuses. These tell you more about the performance of our individual buildings.

In our larger, publically-accessible buildings you will find a Display Energy Certificate. These will tell you about a building’s carbon dioxide emissions. You can view a full list of the ratings here.

In the entrance to our newer buildings, you will also find an Energy Performance Certificate. These describe the energy efficiency of a space and the potential for improvement. You might recognise these, as they are similar to those required for a domestic home.

If you have any questions about the way we manage our carbon emissions or would like to make a suggestion, please get in touch.

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