Royal Holloway lags behind in University Carbon Progress Report

RHUL’s CO2 emissions rose 1,000 tonnes last year

By Kyle Hoekstra

October 2015

Royal Holloway is further from reaching its 2020 emissions reduction target than it was last year, indicates a new report.

Despite an overall reduction of 23% in carbon emissions since 2005, which the college committed to half by 2020, the report by Brite Green notes an increase in emissions in the 2013/14 academic year of over 1,000 tonnes, an increase of 10% upon the previous year, and which amounts to 7.5% of the 2005 baseline emissions.

The University Carbon Progress Report predicts a 13% shortfall to Royal Holloway’s target reduction of 48%, which requires the college to produce less than 8,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year by 2020. Last year, the college produced 11,928 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The report’s projections do not take account of plans to expand the college.

76% of unis will miss targets

Brite Green, a sustainability consultancy, studied 127 universities in England and found that only 31 are projected to be on track or to exceed their carbon reduction targets.

They found that most universities (76%) are set to miss the 43% reduction across the sector by 2020 as set by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) in 2010. According to the report’s forecasts, higher education institutions will achieve only a 12% reduction in absolute carbon emissions.

Oxford, King’s College London and Cambridge are among the 35 universities found to have increased carbon emissions since 2005, ranked 113th, 118th and 119th respectively. Royal Holloway ranks 30th in the chart, despite its shortfall, while London Metropolitan University ranks first having more than halved its emissions.

Researchers used public data from Hefce and the Higher Education Statistics Agency in their analysis and offered universities the opportunity to provide more information on their emissions.

Royal Holloway is ‘committed’ to fighting climate change

Although the majority are not on course to meet emission targets, many universities including Royal Holloway have introduced initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and invest in sustainable energy.

Asked for comment by The Founder, David Haygarth, Energy and Sustainability Manager in Royal Holloway’s Estates Department, said: “Royal Holloway is committed to reducing carbon emissions and the College has a carbon management plan, which outlines how it will deliver an ongoing reduction up to and beyond 2020.

“Since 2005/06, Royal Holloway has reduced carbon emissions by 23% by making improvements in academic, residential and social spaces, through the use of energy management software and carbon reduction measures such as improved insulation and renewable energy sources. This 23% reduction has been achieved alongside an increase in student numbers and floor space.”

However, Royal Holloway is projected to miss its 2020 target of 48%.

Is expansion to blame?

Yvonne Hawkins, Hefce’s director of universities and colleges, suggested growth in the sector has stalled progress, saying the targets did not account for “significant recent growth in university estates and student numbers.”

Darren Chadwick, Brite Green’s managing partner, said that “despite the significant efforts of energy and estates managers, strong growth in the sector has meant that many universities have fallen well behind their targets.“

He urged carbon strategies to be updated, citing a “disconnect” between universities’ carbon management plans and their commercial strategies.

Andrew Taylor of People and Planet argued that government funding relating to carbon reduction had been “gutted” and regretted that “after years of student campaigning, some universities continue to de-prioritise sustainability.”

Royal Holloway’s student body has grown in recent years and the college expects to accommodate 2,000 more students by 2021 and 1.5% more per year thereafter. Residential plans include 56 new townhouses for 600 students, to be completed by 2017 alongside the new library.

David Haygarth said “the College has reaffirmed its long term commitment to carbon saving” by setting high sustainability standards for the new Library and Student Services Centre and new residences, where ratings of Excellent to Outstanding are sought under the BREEAM assessment framework.


Picture courtesy of Royal Holloway

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