CO2 Producing Universities

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    Guide Author

    James Longley

    Managing Director

    min read
    Last Updated April 14, 2023
    CO2 Producing Universities

    The harmful effects of climate change are becoming more and more apparent in today’s society. Doing your bit to help the environment can be as simple as turning off your tap when brushing your teeth, or washing dishes by hand to avoid the dishwasher. However, for large-scale companies, the solutions require bigger actions such as switching to a more eco-conscious business energy supply.

    It is no secret that universities and schools across the UK have contributed to global warming over the years, but even though there is still a long way to go, many institutions are making changes to help reduce their carbon footprint. Because of this, we were interested to find out which UK universities are producing the most carbon and how these institutions plan to become more sustainable in the future – here’s what we found

    The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is producing 2,700,148 kg of carbon emissions per 1,000 students – more than any other UK university

    To reveal which UK universities have the largest carbon footprint, we have delved into the xnumber of scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions produced which detail the amount of carbon produced directly by the university.

    The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is producing 2,700,148 kg of carbon emissions per 1,000 students - more than any other UK university

    To reveal which UK universities have the largest carbon footprint, we have delved into the number of scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions produced which detail the amount of carbon produced directly by the university.

    Biggest Overall Carbon Footprint

    1. Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine – 2.7 million kg CO2e per 1,000 students

    Based in London, the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is currently responsible for the biggest carbon footprint of any UK university. Despite producing 2.7 million kg of carbon emissions per 1,000 students, this public research university has implemented plans to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. These efforts have not gone unnoticed as its overall carbon per staff/student has been reduced by almost 25% since 2005.

    2. Cranfield University – 2 million kg CO2e per 1,000 students

    With over 2 million kg of carbon emissions per 1,000 students, it is Cranfield University which takes the second spot in this list. Located in Bedfordshire, this university has the smallest student population of all the entrants in the top three, but unfortunately, it has high levels of carbon emissions.

    Similarly to the other universities in this ranking, Cranfield University has set a goal to become net zero by 2030. Within this plan, it has proposed to reduce its carbon emissions by switching to LED lighting, as well as replacing its less efficient boiler with an air source heat pump.

    3. The University of Oxford – 1.7 million kg CO2e per 1,000 students

    Completing this top three list of UK universities with the largest carbon footprint is the University of Oxford. As the second-oldest university in operation, this institution has certainly made a name for itself over the years. Despite having the highest number of enrolled students of all the entries in the top three, the University of Oxford has the third highest carbon footprint – totalling 1.7 million kg CO2e per 1,000 students.

    The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine produce the most carbon emissions when it comes to business travel - 4,813 tCO2e per 1,000 students

    There are a lot of ways that carbon can be emitted into the atmosphere and this can make it tricky to know how to reduce your carbon footprint. Because of this, we wanted to break down our findings into individual factors, starting with emissions from transportation to and from the university.

    Highest Carbon Emissions For Business Travels

    1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – 4,813 tCO2e per 1,000 students

    With 4,813 tCO2e per 1,000 students, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine produce more business travel carbon emissions than any other university in the UK. As part of its goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030, this institution is encouraging the use of low-carbon travel, including public transport and sharing cars. Also, the new age of technology has meant that more and more people can work from home, and LSHTM has started to utilise the use of remote conferences as a way of reducing the amount of business travel carbon emissions.

    With 631 tCO2e per 1,000 students, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is the UK university with the highest carbon emissions for ‘student commuting’

    As students are at the heart of any university, it may come as no surprise that they are responsible for a large proportion of the total carbon emissions across their respective institutions. Below is a list of the UK universities that produce the highest level of carbon regarding the commuting of students.

    Highest Carbon Emissions For Student Commuting

    1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – 631 tCO2e per 1,000 students

    Making its second appearance here is the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – this time topping the ranking as the UK university with the highest production of carbon when it comes to student commutes.

    As mentioned before, LSHTM is trying to encourage the use of more sustainable travel alternatives for both students and staff. By adopting more eco-conscious modes of transport, such as cycling, the students of this university can simultaneously improve their health as well as reduce the 710 tCO2e emissions from student commutes.

    With 363 tCO2e per 1,000 students, Oxford Brookes University produces more ‘waste’ carbon emissions than any other UK university

    Highest Carbon Emissions For Waste

    To help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, alternative methods to the removal of waste have been adopted in recent years. While some universities have hopped on this bandwagon, others are slightly behind on the times. So, which institutions have the worst track record in this regard? Here’s what we found.

    1. Oxford Brookes University – 363 tCO2e per 1,000 students

    Taking the top spot in this list, with 363 tCO2e per 1,000 students, is Oxford Brookes University. As well as having the highest ‘waste’ carbon emission per 1,000 students, this institution also tops the ranking in terms of its 6,343 tCO2e carbon emission total which is higher than any other university in this top ten. In a bid to reduce its high level of ‘waste’ carbon emissions, Oxford Brookes University has put together an extensive carbon reduction strategy which includes goals such as achieving a 90% recycling rate.

    The University College London has higher levels of ‘Supply Chain’ carbon emissions than any other UK university - 8,449 tCO2e per 1,000 students

    As experts in electricity business comparison, we are interested in everything business-related. The distribution of products and services is an important component of any company, and universities are no exception. Below is a list of the UK universities that are producing the most carbon when it comes to supply chains.

    Highest Supply Chain Carbon Emissions

    1. University College London – 8,449 tCO2e per 1,000 students

    Located in England’s capital, University College London produces 8,449 tCO2e per 1,000 students for supply chain emissions alone. Supply chains are known to produce high-carbon fossil fuels which have harmful effects on the environment. These issues have been recognised by the University College London, and this institution is working with some of their suppliers to come up with sustainable alternatives, including a refurbishment scheme with their furniture provider.

    Methodology

    We used data from HESA to find the number of students studying at each UK institution as of 2021/22.

    We used HESA data from 2020/21 to find the following ‘scope 3’ carbon emission totals for each institution: business travel, student commuting, waste and supply chain emissions. We have also used this source to find the total ‘scope 1 and 2’ emissions for each university.

    We divided the carbon emission total by each institution’s student population before calculating the number of carbon emissions per 1,000 students.

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