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Reducing our environmental impact

We are the UK’s first purpose-built student accommodation provider to commit to achieving net-zero carbon, through resilient and resource-efficient assets and operations.

Net zero carbon for both our operations and developments by 2030

Our Net Zero Carbon Pathway, published in December 2021, explains how we plan to improve operational performance in our existing estate and turn our vision for net zero carbon new developments into a reality.

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BECOMING NET-ZERO CARBON IN OUR OPERATIONS AND DEVELOPMENTS BY 2030

CREATING RESILIENT, RESOURCE-EFFICIENT ASSETS AND OPERATIONS

The Four Cs

To achieve net zero carbon, we need to improve the operational performance of our existing estate. To help us identify how to do this, including the investments we need to make, we have developed a modelling tool which charts the route to net zero for each of our buildings. Developed in house, the tool combines real-life energy consumption data, information from site surveys and insight from energy efficiency improvements to model the potential impact of combinations of energy efficiency measures.

CASE STUDY

Our vision for net zero carbon buildings

Our current projects in development are incorporating aspects which reduce both embodied carbon and operational energy.

Students call for strong action on climate change

In our 2021 survey on the climate crisis, undergraduates say they would like to see campus bans on single-use plastics and fines for students who don’t comply.

CASE STUDY

Addressing climate risks

Climate change poses a serious threat and as a TCFD supporter we disclose the details of the most significant climate related risks for our business. Water stress is one such long-term issue, so we have been trialling ways to reduce water use in our existing buildings.

KEY TARGETS:

  • We will deliver net-zero carbon new developments, with meaningful reductions in embodied carbon, by the end of 2030.
  • We will achieve net-zero carbon operations, including significant reductions in energy consumption by the end of 2030.
  • We will buy 100% certified renewable electricity that supports the development of new renewable generation capacity by 2028 and stop using fossil fuels by the end of 2030.
  • We will reduce carbon emissions per bed.
  • We will reduce water use.
  • We will increase engagement with students and our employees to embed lasting environmentally responsible living habits.
CASE STUDY
Corporate power purchase agreement:
Strengthening our commitment to renewable energy

Since 2017, all electicity bought under our group supply contract with Npower (around 73% of the total electricity consumption across our buildings) comes from renewable sources and is backed by REGOs (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin Certificates) meaning it is zero carbon. However, to support our net-zero carbon ambitions we will need to go further, and buy energy in ways that directly support the creation of the new renewable energy generation – a feature known as signing a five-megawatt “additionality”. In 2020 we took our first steps in this direction, signing a 5MW corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) meaning that around 20% of our total electricity will come from a specific wind farm in Scotland, and we are already looking for ways to increase the proportion energy we buy under similar arrangement in future.

“Buying electricity through a corporate power purchase agreement created a strong link between the end user and a specific renewable generator. We were delighted to work with Unite and help deliver real reductions in carbon emissions via a 5MW corporate PPA with the Galawhistle wind farm in Scotland.”

Npower