Energy, carbon and water

Solar panels covering a flat roof

We declared a climate emergency in September 2019, recognising the scientific consensus that we only have until 2030 to deliver deep cuts in carbon emissions to avert the most serious consequences of climate change.

Through our teaching, research, campus management and partnerships, we will do all within our means to tackle the causes and consequences of climate change.

Our goal

We will reduce our carbon emissions to zero by 2045, including indirect (Scope 3) emissions. Our ARU Climate Positive Plan (PDF) details how we will achieve this.

By 2026 all of our electricity will be obtained from zero carbon sources, and we will have improved the energy efficiency of our estate by at least 10%.

Our direct carbon emissions (Scope 1 and 2)

See how our direct carbon emissions have fallen since 2006 and how we’re performing compared to our targets (PDF).

Over 99% of the carbon emissions which are produced directly from our own operations result from the energy we use to power, heat and light our campuses.

We have 142 kW, or about 1,420 square metres, of solar panels installed on our buildings, which prevents 13 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.

Since October 2019 we have also purchased 20% of our baseload electricity from windfarms in Scotland and Wales through an innovative Power Purchase Agreement. We have also established an Energy Performance Contract to deliver a range of energy saving measures across our buildings in several phases.

Indirect carbon emissions (Scope 3)

In addition to the carbon we produce directly from our own energy consumption, carbon is also produced during the production of goods and services we buy, the transport of people and materials to our campuses, as well as travel that staff and students need to complete for their work. These indirect carbon emissions are called ‘Scope 3’ under the international Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

While there are many uncertainties associated with the methods used to calculate these emissions, you can see how our indirect impact on the climate is several times greater than from our direct operations (PDF).

Fossil fuel free investments

In 2018 we signed the Fossil Fuel Declaration, a partnership between the National Union of Students and People & Planet. By signing the declaration we declare that we have no investments in extractor fossil fuel companies and pledge to remain fossil free in the future.

Water

Cambridgeshire and Essex are two of the driest counties in the UK, receiving less than 450mm of rainfall in some years, classifying them as "semi-arid", which is less than the average annual rainfall in Jerusalem or Beirut.

Saving water reduces the stress on our natural environment, particularly rivers and wetlands, and reduces the carbon emissions associated with the energy needed to treat and transport water and sewage.

See the trends in our water consumption over recent years compared to benchmark levels (PDF).

We have installed automatic meter readers on our main water supplies enabling us to closely monitor our consumption and identify any potential leaks or changes in performance.

The water efficient Mediterranean Garden on ARU's Chelmsford campus

We also have high standards for our new buildings or refurbishment projects which require water efficient fittings, while our Mediterranean Garden in Chelmsford (left) illustrates how we are incorporating water efficiency within our grounds maintenance activities.

Help minimise water waste on campus by reporting any leaks or dripping taps to our Estates & Facilities Helpdesk.

Take action

Sign up to ARUgreen to learn more about energy, water and climate change through regular webinars, monthly challenges and earn rewards for adopting simple behaviour changes.

While Estates and Facilities have many measures and procedures in place to save energy in our buildings, we can all do our bit by following the tips from the Carbon Trust below.

Energy saving tips

Electrical devices and appliances

  • Ensure your computer monitor and laptop are switched off when not in use, especially overnight and at weekends.
  • Don’t use screen savers at all.
  • Configure your computer to go into a low-power or sleep mode after 10 minutes of inactivity.
  • Unplug mobile phone and tablet chargers when not in use.
  • Always consider energy efficiency when making new equipment purchases.

Heating and cooling

  • Allow warm or cool air to circulate within your workspace – don’t block radiators or floor/wall vents with furniture or other items.
  • Remember that we don't allow you to use portable electric heaters or portable air-conditioning units inside our buildings. As well as increasing the load on a building’s power circuits, presenting a fire risk, and being inefficient and costly, these can trick our buildings' main heating systems into thinking it's hotter or cooler than it actually is, activating or shutting down the heating for your whole area or floor.

Lighting

  • If a room does not have automated lighting, switch off lights when they are not required.
  • Report any faulty light sensors (for example, lights that stay on when not needed) to the Facilities Helpdesk.