According to research released by sustainability consultancy Brite Green, English universities have made steps forward in reducing carbon emissions in the academic year ending in 2015. However, targets in this sector are unlikely to be met.
Higher education emissions dropped in 2014/15 but still remain well above the target figures. The higher education sector in England has improved its carbon emissions reduction performance compared to last year, but it is still off track to achieve the 2020 targets. According to projections, if emissions continue to fall at the current rate, the sector will achieve a 15% reduction by 2020 from the 2005 baseline. This is still far from the 43% HEFCE target , established to help meet the UK’s carbon reduction commitment set out in the Climate Change Act 2008 , and the self – imposed 37% emissions reduction average target for all institutions.
In the third annual University Carbon Progress Report, Brite Green analysed publicly available data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and HEFCE . Institutions were able to review data to ensure it is accurate and applicable. To strengthen efforts in providing relevant data and supporting practitioners, this year B rite Green also survey ed energy managers and carried out detailed stakeholder interviews to analyse challenges, opportunities and best practices in carbon management.
The most recent data show absolute emissions reductions achieved to date of 10% in 10 years. At the same time, 71% of universities are set to miss their own 2020 targets. This is still a slight improvement from last year’s analysis, with an additional 3% reduction compared to 2013/14.
Brite Green Managing Partner Darren Chadwick states:
“Universities have reached a significant milestone this year having achieved an overall reduction in emissions of 10% from 2005, against a background of significant commercial growth”
Only 30% of universities are on track to meet their carbon targets.
Of the 12 6 institutions analysed only 37 are on track to meet or exceed their targets, a slight improvement from 2013/14. The report also reveals that there is a large gap between top and bottom performers across all carbon metrics. The top ten performers, led by SOAS University of London, have all achieved absolute emission reductions of more than 38% from the 2005 baseline. Like last year, the bottom performers continue to move further away from their targets.
Commercial growth, weakening policy and post – Brexit uncertainty are key factors in poor carbon performance
Commercial growth continues to be one of the most significant challenges faced by institutions when trying to achieve absolute emissions reductions. This year, energy managers also highlighted that political uncertainty – particularly post-Brexit – has become another significant challenge.
UK carbon targets and the Paris Agreement frame the need for better results
The UK’s legally binding carbon targets together with China and the USA’s recent announce ment that
they will ratify the Paris Agreement on carbon emissions mean that more is needed to match climate
action with policy objectives.
Universities have started to implement broader sustainability strategies
Amidst setbacks, universities continue to implement effective carbon reduction strategies and are now moving towards a more rounded approach to sustainability management across each institution. Carbon reduction challenges are being tackled by broader sustainability programmes and cross-department al collaboration.
Across the board most universities still have aspirations to grow research and student
numbers so it makes carbon reduction very tough
Universities are improving efficiency
The majority of institutions have continued to improve efficiency, both in relation to revenue and floor
space. Since 2008, university emissions intensity has fallen by 33% when measured against income
(£) and 16% when measured against floor area (m2).
“Regardless of our sector target I still feel like any absolute reduction in a growing sector/business is
impressive. Across the board most universities still have aspirations to grow research and student
numbers so it makes carbon reduction very tough ” notes Iain Patton, Chief Executive of EAUC .
Brite Green is consolidating itself as a leading advisory firm for the sector
In its third year, the report has provided the opportunity for Brite Green to consolidate itself as a leading resource for carbon management in the higher education sector. Our research is used across the sector to design and evaluate carbon management strategies, and we have worked with universities to develop and improve all aspe cts of their sustainability performance.
According to Darren Chadwick, Managing Partner at Brite Green:
“A lot of great work has been done in the sector to tackle carbon emissions but progress to date highlights the need for better national collaboration. We have published a good practice guide this year to showcase the best practice at the institution level, but there is a real need for better policy and low-carbon infrastructure at the national level to help achieve our carbon reduction targets.”
Lots of resources are available for universities
Brite Green provides a detailed report on sector performance and individual reports for each institution free of charge. We have also published a good practice guide that includes practical insight and case studies from practitioners from across the UK.
Download the good practice guide from the Brite Green website
Brite Green is also offering free consultation to universities to identify areas for improvement in their
Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness
Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.
How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature
Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.
While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.
When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness. Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.
4 Practical Ways to Disconnect
If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:
1. Switch to a New Phone Plan
It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.
One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.
2. Get Rid of Social Media
Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).
If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.
3. Create Quiet Hours
If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.
4. Build Community
Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.
As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.
Untether Your Life
If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.
6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move
Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.
6 Tips for a Greener Move
Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.
1. Maximize Each Trip
When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.
If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.
2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep
The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.
3. Reuse Moving Boxes
Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.
4. Get Creative With Packing
Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.
5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies
Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.
6. Forward Your Mail ASAP
Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.
Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful
Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.
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