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Swansea University has been named as the only university in Wales to have featured in the first Royal Anniversary Trust report, which outlines an ambitious roadmap for decarbonisation of the tertiary education sector.

Key Swansea University carbon reduction projects are included in the “Accelerating towards Net Zeroreport – the first of its kind which highlights target areas for emissions reporting and reduction. It proposes a new standardised carbon reporting framework which will enable all Further and Higher (FE and HE) institutions to measure, report and manage carbon emissions.

The report is the result of a year-long research project – The Platinum Jubilee Challenge – led by 21 HE and FE institutes from across the UK, which, like Swansea University, were recent winners of the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize. It concludes with 14 clear recommendations to Government and priorities for the sector that will accelerate progress towards Net Zero.

The report includes a Swansea University student-led funded project, which was one of only five student projects featured, plus innovative case studies:

  • Student Challenge: Selected and supported by the the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Student Challenge Prize Fund, This student-led project aims to use existing university spaces to create provisions for biodiversity and carbon capture on campus and in the local area through the production of materials to support wide-scale peatland restoration across the regional landscape, and the creation or improvement of onsite areas for growing native species, such as Sphagnum moss and wildflowers, that can improve habitats rapidly and radically for carbon sequestration and nature.
  • The UK’s First Energy Positive Classroom: SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) in collaboration with partners including Tata Steel, is pioneering Active Buildings® which generate, store, and release their own solar energy.  Part of this project is the Active Classroom®, developed in 2016 as the UK’s first energy positive classroom alongside aiding the green energy transition, by integrating self-sufficient renewable energy generation with storage and smart controls, these buildings could foster a more advanced understanding of energy use.
  • ‘Gateway to Zero’:  This flagship project, in collaboration with private sector companies, local authorities, and other regional businesses, aims to reduce the “off campus” indirect Scope 3 carbon emission associated with the University’s travel and transportation from supply chain, wastes and services consumed, by creating a renewably powered electrical and hydrogen storage hub for transport with charging infrastructure.  This first-of-a-kind hub would facilitate a range of research and innovation activities and encouraging the adoption of low-emission vehicles with innovations including the pilot of H2 buses, which would be pioneered on Swansea’s intercampus service which runs every 15 minutes, for 24 hours a day.
  • Sustainable LEAF Labs: Swansea University is adopting the LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) across its laboratories to improve their sustainability and efficiency.

Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, Professor Paul Boyle said: ““Following our Queen’s Anniversary Prize award in 2021, I am delighted that Swansea is the only university in Wales to have featured in this flagship Net Zero challenge.  Our research and campus operations teams have worked together on this exciting project, alongside other HE and FE institutions, to develop a framework for carbon reporting.  The report demonstrates what is possible with effective collaboration and shared ambition, and provides a clear plan for our sector to achieve our critical Net Zero targets.” 

Kristina Murrin, CEO of The Royal Anniversary Trust commented: “Our ambition was to bring together the extraordinary winners of the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes to collectively tackle a tough shared challenge. The resulting report sets out a clear action plan for the tertiary education sector to accelerate progress to Net Zero, with recommendations for institutions and government. We are enormously proud of the proposed carbon reporting Framework – if adopted sector-wide, this will allow for consistent, transparent, and data-led decision making.”

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