Energy and Carbon

The University of Birmingham is dedicated to reaching Net Zero Carbon Emissions for Scopes 1 and 2 by 2035 and Scope 3 by 2045, against a 20/21 baseline.

James Sharman

James Sharman

Decarbonisation and Sustainability Manager

“Our pioneering research and teaching address the realities of climate change through transforming health, environment and society. However, we also have a responsibility to ensure that we lead by example, reducing the impact of our own operations. We are committed to going beyond business as usual, eliminating our environmental impact as far as possible, and energy use and carbon emissions are an enormous part of this.”


Our Targets

With goals of achieving Net Zero Carbon for Scopes 1 & 2 by 2035 and Scope 3 by 2045, the University has committed to developing sustainable, smart campuses and ways of working. Our membership of the United Nations’ ‘Race to Zero’ campaign demonstrates the value we place on rallying leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, and investors. This is essential to produce a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.

Graphic showing the sources of emissions included in the three scopes of carbon emissions at the university of birmingham. An arrow shows the net zero by 2035 target for scopes 1 and 2, and net zero by 2045 target for scope 3. The sources of emissions are also detailed in the text below the image.This graphic (above) shows the University of Birmingham's Net Zero Targets for Scopes 1, 2, and 3, and includes what sources of emissions are included in each Scope:

  • Scope 1: Natural gas, Gas oil, University vehicle fleet, Grounds maintenance fuel, Fugitive emissions.
  • Scope 2: Grid electricity, Purchased heat.
  • Scope 3: Business travel, Waste, Water and waste water, Employee and student commuting, Purchased Goods and Services, Capital goods, Fuel and energy procurement.


We take a holistic view on decreasing emissions: from helping people reduce their energy use in the office and at home, through investment and support, to utilising best practice from across the sector. This includes our partnership with Siemens to become a world-class Smart Campus at both our Birmingham and Dubai campuses, which will help us reduce our electricity usage by a minimum of 10%.

Between 2005 and 2020 we reduced emissions by more than 20%. However, we recognise there have been significant gaps in our data collection on carbon emissions in recent years, and are taking big steps to keep ourselves accountable for our bold commitments to sustainability now and in the future, including working with our Carbon Accountants at Hoare Lea.

Carbon Accounting

Achieving Net Zero Carbon is one of our three core commitments within the sustainability pillar of our 2030 strategy, and measuring our emissions according to best practice is an important step to meet this ambition and decarbonise our operations. Ensuring we have a robust process in place to measure our progress will allow us to make increasingly informed decisions about where best to target emissions reduction within the University’s practices and programmes.

The first stage in this process has been the development of our first major Carbon Accounting Report. This report is part of our commitment to transparency as we develop our decarbonisation strategy. It highlights our current emissions, which areas have the biggest environmental impact, and includes recommendations for areas to focus on whilst creating our net zero carbon strategy.

Our Carbon Emissions 2020/21

Scope 1 and 2 Emissions

Pie chart showing scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions breakdown, also described in Table 1

This Pie Chart (above) and Table 1 (below) show a breakdown of our Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Table 1: Breakdown of our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions 2020/21. Numbers may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
 Source Total emissions (CO2e) Portion of scope 1 and 2 emissions
 Gas  43,692  89.36%
 Electricity  4,685  9.58%
 Other fuels  192  0.39%
 Vehicle fleet  75  0.15%
 Heat  24  0.05%

Scope 3 Emissions

Pie chart showing scope 3 carbon emissions breakdown, also described in Table 3

This Pie Chart (above) and Table 2 (below) shows a breakdown of our Scope 3 emissions in more detail:

Table 2: Breakdown of Scope 3 Emissions 2020/21. Numbers may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
 Source Total Emissions (CO2e) Portion of Scope 3 Emissions
 Purchased Products and Services  196,568 85% 
 Associated Fuel and Energy Procurement  12,113  5%
 Commuting  11,343  5%
 Business Travel  9,364  4%
 Capital Goods  1,410  0.61%
 Waste  628  0.27%
 Waste water  116  0.05%
 Water  70  0.03%
 Grey fleet  23  0.01%

 The full Carbon Accounting Report 2020/21 is available to download as a PDF. An accessible Word Document version of the report is also available to view.

Find out what Game-Changing work the university is doing around the energy crisis.