University of Hull targets carbon neutrality by 2027

The University of Hull has pledged to achieve carbon-neutral operations within seven years, and will invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy generation technologies to meet this ambition.

University of Hull targets carbon neutrality by 2027

Hull and the wider Humber region are seen as pivotal in the UK's transition to net-zero

The University, which plays host to more than 16,000 students and 2,500 staff, developed the new target as part of its forthcoming strategic plan, given that the current edition of the plan will expire at the end of 2020.

It will work with Siemens to develop a roadmap to carbon-neutrality, due for publication later this year.

While the details of the roadmap remain to be confirmed, the University has said it will consist of three key phases: reducing energy consumption, producing its own renewable energy generation carbon insetting capacities, and converting the campus into a ‘living lab’ for innovative energy technologies.

The reduction phase will see a detailed examination of the University’s current energy and emissions footprint conducted by Siemens, and technologies and processes implemented to address any hotspots. Siemens claims this step will reduce the campus’ energy consumption by up to 15%.

Then, assessments will be conducted as to which forms of renewable energy technologies best suit the campus. The University notably has its own centre for sustainable energy technologies, which will assist in this step.

Once these two phases have been completed, researchers, students and start-ups will be given the opportunity to trial new low-carbon technologies on the campus.

The University’s director of estates and facilities Stephen Dale said the roadmap is an “integral” part of plans to align with climate science for Hull’s centenary in 2027. 

“The masterplan will highlight both changes we can make to our existing operations on campus, to drive down carbon emissions, as well as some significant infrastructure projects to help us reach our ambitious goal,” he said. 

Region and sector

Siemens said the publication of the University of Hull’s roadmap will come at an important moment in the Humber region’s transition to net-zero.

As a base for five power stations and two oil refineries, and a former coal hub, transforming the regional economy in the Humber is widely regarded as crucial to meeting the UK’s long-term climate targets. Siemens itself is bringing a wind turbine factory and electric train factory online in the region, while a consortium of other businesses are in the process of bringing a net-zero industrial cluster online. Natural climate solutions are also being trialled in the region.

As for the higher education sector, the University of Hull is one of several UK universities to have set net-zero or carbon-neutrality targets ahead of the national 2050 deadline.

The University of Manchester has a 2038 deadline, in line with Manchester City Council’s net-zero ambitions. The University of Bournemouth, meanwhile, is exploring whether to set its deadline at 2030 or 2031.

The earliest net-zero deadline from a UK university seems to be 2025, set by Goldsmiths. 2019 saw Goldsmiths switch to a 100% renewable electricity contract, remove fossil fuel companies and projects from its investment portfolio and begin work to reduce the carbon footprint of its food and drink.

Sarah George

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