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Staffordshire University’s New Carbon Reduction Plan

This new Carbon Reduction plan focusses on the reduction of Scopes 1 and 2 emissions.

This plan replaces the previous plan approved by Staffordshire University‘s Sustainability and Resources Committee on 22 November 2022.

What has changed in this plan?

A low carbon geothermal source of hot water, supplied via the Stoke District Heat Network, is now emerging as a viable solution. It could come on-line before 2030, and would replace the gas-fired boilers located mainly on College Road and could represent a substantial reduction in carbon emissions compared to burning gas to heat water.

This is a more efficient and effective solution which will require less capital expenditure by the University on infrastructure than the previously proposed plan to convert to air-source heat pumps. Also, sub-metering of electricity consumption for all buildings is now in place.


In 2022, the University published a target of achieving Carbon Net Zero for Scopes 1 and 2 (energy consumed on site) by 2030. This is one of the University’s headline KPIs.

What are they trying to achieve?

This plan focusses on the reduction of Scopes 1 and 2 emissions:

Scope 1 emissions originate from the University’s direct burning of fossil fuels to create energy, including gas-fired boilers used to generate heat and the gas-fired Combined Heat and Power plant (in the Science Centre) used to generate both electricity and heat.

Scope 1 also includes fuel for the University’s on-campus service vehicles (most of which have now been replaced with electric-powered vehicles) and the gases which leak from the air-conditioning units on campus.

Scope 2 emissions are those released off-site through the generation of electricity from fossil-based sources (i.e. coal and gas-fired power stations), which is supplied through the national grid.

The main ways of achieving a reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions, are for the University to:

  • Stop using gas as a fuel source.
  • Source electricity from external renewable sources.
  • Generate electricity from on-site renewable sources (mostly solar).

This new plan sets out, in more detail, how this could be achieved.

How potentially effective is this plan?

This Carbon Reduction plan, which includes a limited amount of off-setting, would achieve the objective of Carbon Net Zero by 2030. The University will continue to work to reduce carbon emissions by all possible means to avoid off-setting.

Key to this carbon reduction plan are the Estates Masterplan and the costings for the work to be done to achieve the reductions in carbon. The financial consequences of developing the Masterplan and the costs of the additional measures are incorporated into the University’s long-term strategic financial plan.

What is the overall approach?

The University’s approach to carbon reduction for scopes 1 and 2 energy consumption over the next ten years can be summarised as follows:

  • Reduce consumption of energy.
  • Generate more electricity from on-site renewable sources, e.g. Photovoltaic cells on roofs added to both new construction and refurbished buildings.
  • Eliminate gas as a source of heating by joining the Stoke District Heat Network in the future.
  • Enter into an incremental series of contracts (for electricity supply) called Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with energy suppliers which can be certified as coming from additional renewable sources.
  • Keep a watching brief on the potential for electricity to be supplied from a new waste-to-energy facility proposed by Stoke City Council and which could come on stream before 2030.
  • Assume that decarbonisation of the grid will also contribute to a significant reduction in carbon emissions, subject to Government policy and investment..
Progress to date
  • 27% decrease in scope 1 and 2 emissions since 2017.
  • 09% lower consumption overall since 2017.
  • 18% reducing gas consumption in favour of electricity and decarbonisation.

Since 2017-18, total scope 1 and 2 emissions have reduced by 27%, of which 9% has resulted from lower consumption and 18% from a combination of reducing gas consumption in favour of electricity and decarbonisation of the grid as electricity generators provide a higher proportion of energy from renewable sources.

The reduction in consumption in 2020-21 achieved as a result of lower on-site activity during the pandemic has not been maintained in 2021-22.

Cost of interventions

The costs of executing this plan have been included in the University’s strategic financial plan to 2027. Expenditure of £3.5m is included in the University’s strategic financial plan for 2023 – 2027. Further expenditure is also assumed after 2027 which is estimated to be around £10m.

Final thoughts

Carbon reduction is assumed to be an integral part of the University’s Strategic Plan and the development of the Estates Masterplan assumes that all developments within the estate must contribute not only to the Teaching and Learning, Research, Enterprise and Innovation, but also to the achievement of Carbon Net Zero for scopes 1 and 2 by 2030.

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