Solar thermal panels fitted to the roof of the Nancy Astor building
We've reduced tCO₂e emissions from gas and electricity by 81% since the base year 1990, making progress towards our carbon reduction targets and we've reduced water use by 42% since 2005–06 by targeting leaks and introducing water efficient equipment and technology. 

Our commitment

We will reduce our carbon emissions and our impact on the environment. Signing up to the Climate Emergency in 2019, our ambitious new target is to achieve net zero emissions (from scope 1 and 2) by 2025. We're dedicated to reducing water consumption on campus through technological innovation and behaviour change.
We aim to:
  • Improve the energy efficiency of all university buildings and facilities, moving away from fossil fuels where possible.
  • Continue to reduce mains grid electricity use by 20% and mains gas by 25% as a minimum by 2030 from 2005–06 levels, with the intention to support further reductions through wider energy generation projects.
  • Reduce water consumption from 7.3m³ per student to below 3.3m³.
  • Maintain water consuming equipment at its optimum efficiency.
  • Reduce consumption through tighter control and elimination of leakages.
Our performance:
  • We've reduced tCO₂e emissions from gas and electricity by 81% since the base year 1990 to 2022–23.
  • We have reduced electricity consumption by 24% from the base year 2005–06 to 2022–23.
  • We have reduced gas use by 44% from the base year 2005–06 to 2022–23.
  • We have reduced water consumption by 42% from the base year 2005–06 to 2022–23.
  • In 2022–23, our water use per student was 4.39m³.


How do we monitor energy use?

Our Building Management System
Our Building Management System (BMS) controls the mechanical and electrical services in 95% of our campus buildings. It ensures intelligent control of building systems and minimises energy waste. The BMS, for example, will turn on the boilers according to external temperatures, and can report a fire or a break-in. We have nearly 500 meters on campus, the majority provide information to the BMS every half an hour!
Monitoring and targeting systems and alerts
We have a live portal offering constant review of our energy use and providing profile alerts. The system checks consumption against historic profiles and energy use against BMS models, and creates live alerts when an item of plant is not functioning as expected. For instance, it can identify if there is higher than expected energy use, which can enable us to fix issues promptly and avoid wasted energy. Within 24 months of implementation, this system has helped us to identify and prevent potential increases in consumption of around £300,000. 

Saving energy

We utilise many energy saving and generation technologies across our University buildings, and have many more projects planned to reduce our energy demand.
On our main campus, Marine Station and Derriford Research Facility utilise Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, generating electricity as well as heating our buildings.
We've installed Inverter Controls on all electric motors on campus, saving us energy by allowing us to operate motors at optimum performance. 
Louvers and fins provide solar shading for the Link and Rolle buildings, which reduce the demand for cooling by reduce heat gain from the sun.
We have natural ventilation and night cooling in Portland Square, Marine Building and The House, where the buildings are designed to ventilate using convection currents. 
We have installed voltage optimisation in the larger buildings around campus, including Portland Square, Roland Levinsky and Nancy Astor, reducing energy use and power demand. 
We use LED lighting across most of our campus as this typically uses five time less energy than traditional lighting. The latest buildings to be converted were Rolle and Portland Square in 2021.
We have solar photovoltaic panels generating electricity on The Peninsula Dental School and the Pool Innovation Centre, Marine Station, Wellbeing Centre, Derriford Research Facility, the Sustainability Hub, and Rolle buildings, with plans to increase our capacity.
In 2019–20 we commenced the Energy Infrastructure Project looking at the longer term plan to transition away from gas-led CHP towards a lower temperature, electrically led heat and cooling network. This will be lower carbon due to the growing input from renewable technology into the electricity grid, and the developing efficient electrical heating technologies such as heat pumps.

Sustainable energy technology on the University of Plymouth campus

View our energy saving measures and technology through the sustainability tour on our interactive map.
Map: Sustainable Energy Technology at the

University of Plymouth


How we're reducing water consumption
With changing weather patterns and increasing global demands, water is the next big global environmental threat – with huge societal impacts. We're committed to responsible water management as part of our overall sustainability strategy, and we believe that water conservation is paramount in terms of protecting the environment and reducing costs.
We have half-hourly water meters throughout the campus, which provide intense monitoring and mapping of water consumption. The more intelligent metering gives us a much greater understanding of water use on campus, meaning we can target problem areas. Water is also closely monitored through our profile alerts platform, alerting us when water use changes from expected levels due to a leak, or change in user behaviour or equipment.  
Rainwater harvesting 
Rainwater harvesting technology is used in the Roland Levinsky Building, Nancy Astor Building, Marine Building and The House. 
Rainwater is collected from the roof and stored in large tanks. The water is then used for the flushing of toilets, and prevents the drinking water from the mains being used. There are many advantages to harvesting rainwater, mainly in providing an independent and local water supply, which is not impacted by regional water restrictions and which reduces the demand on local water infrastructure.
Water discharges
The University follows UK government guidelines and legislation to ensure water discharges beyond sewage do not negatively impact water quality, in order to protect ecosystems, wildlife or human health and welfare. 
Any incidents falling outside of our Trade Effluent Exemption Permits are tracked, as we never allow any disposal of liquids via external surface drains or directly into water courses.

Get involved

If you are an existing staff or student, more information on day to day operations and carbon literacy opportunities can be found on our SharePoint site (log in required).
Students can also contact their representatives at the student union, UPSU, to voice feedback on the University’s plans, either via the Sabbatical Officers or the Part Time Environment & Sustainability Officer.
Although technology delivers big energy savings, it's estimated that with your help, behaviour change can deliver at least a 20% saving in emissions. Please see the Get involved page to help us with our ambitious target to be net zero by 2025. 
Students as partners

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Sustainability is embedded not just in operations across the University but also in our course provision, education methods and research.

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