Join the Race to Zero before 11th November 2024

Race to life logo

University of Northampton - UK

What is the name of your institution?

University of Northampton

Why did you sign up to the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges?

UON signed up to the Race to Zero in 2021 to show our commitment to mitigating against climate change and to hold us accountable. The campaign provides a way for us to formalise our Net Zero Carbon targets which are aligned to a credible global standard, which is common across a range of sectors. The campaign is a collective commitment from HE institutions enabling us to collaborate, share learning, knowledge, and research outcomes.

What have you achieved since you have joined the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges? 

With the development of Waterside UON invested in technologies that reduces energy consumption and provides low carbon heat energy via our biomass boiler, which reduced our carbon footprint by 40% by 2020 compared to our 2006 baseline. In addition, we now purchase our electricity from renewable sources, and subsidise the use of our Uno bus service, all of which has a positive impact on our carbon emissions.

Since signing up we have reduced our scope 1 & 2 carbon emissions by 21% (A/Y 2021/2022 compared to 2020/2021) and produced our heat decarbonisation plan, enabling us to identify our priorities for action for the next 12 months. This plan also gave us a realistic view of investment and costs across the life cycle of the proposed solutions.

Going forwards we will be further developed our carbon management action plan; implementation of the HDP, review financing options and incorporate scope 3 emissions.

How are you leading the transition to net-zero? Consider the Leadership Practices and how you are engaging others to join the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges or other Race to Zero campaigns.

Our senior leaders work with HE sector associations such as UUK, providing insights and case studies into transitioning to net zero, share best practice and collaborate with a range of local stakeholders on net zero challenges. UON were accepted as a Pilot Study University as part of the DfE Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy, presenting our approach to supporting the implementation of strategy at their launch event.

Our greatest impact on engaging with others around Race to Zero was during our COP26 week of climate action. We signed up to the UK Universities Network Group (formally COP26 Universities Network), we partnered with the Circular Economy Club 3 Counties, who launched a student design challenge, the week was a full programme of events, guest speakers and local vendors to promote sustainability in the community. The event was designed to raise awareness of the causes and impacts of climate change at both the local and global level (and to celebrate the positive environmental progress being made in Northamptonshire).

What challenges have you had?

Big challenges:

  1. Operationally decarbonising our heat (how we heat our buildings and water).
  2. The complexity of identifying and prioritising actions which will save the most carbon emissions and deliver long-term sustainability
  3. Financing the significant investment that is needed to realise our NZC target.

«Back to Resources