Facts and figures

We will be taking renewed strategic action to tackle the climate emergency but sustainability has been incorporated into University decision making for years. Find out more below.

ELectric car charge

At a glance

31% reduction in carbon emissions since 2005

100% renewable procured electricity supply 

£0 invested in fossil fuel companies

94.5% of University waste is recycled, composted or sent for energy recovery

43% of University fleet vehicles are electric

2:1 tree replacement policy - over 10,000 trees on campus

Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions

Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions: those that can be directly attributed to the University’s activities, such as its fleet and any gas used on site. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions: those produced by our energy supply. The emissions are usually grouped together

As of 2017/18, The University of Sheffield has reduced its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 31% since 2005. During this time, the University has grown considerably, meaning we have reduced both our absolute and relative (per m²) emissions. Our current aim is to reduce our absolute emissions by 43% to 24,000 tonnes by 2020, which we are on target to achieve.

However, we know that we need to take more drastic action to combat the climate emergency and we will soon be publishing a carbon neutrality target and an action plan for achieving this.

Scope 3 carbon emissions

Scope 3 emissions are all other indirect emissions arising from the University’s activity. Examples include staff and student commuting, business flights and emissions embedded in the supply chain.

At Sheffield, we recognise that the climate emergency demands we look at more than just our direct emissions and reduce emissions from all University activities; as a socially responsible institution, we must do all we can to reduce these emissions. 

Scope 3 emissions also have a more far-reaching impact that Scopes 1 and 2. In 2016/17, our emissions from procurement (including development), waste, water, operations and travel were 266% higher than the University’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions at 94,671 tCO2e. This shows that the University can make huge strides in reducing its carbon impact by targeting Scope 3 alongside our direct emissions. 

We are currently redoubling our efforts to collect comprehensive Scope 3 data and are working hard to reduce our Scope 3 impact, with a particular focus on our supply chain.

Endowment investments

In 2019 we completed our divestment from fossil fuel companies. This means that the University holds no shares in any companies involved in the extraction or processing of fossil fuels.

Our endowment investment policy also prohibits investments in arms companies, tobacco and cosmetic animal testing.

We’re currently exploring how our investments can be used to support companies that have a positive environmental impact.

Waste and recycling

We are determined to reduce our waste as much as possible and recycle all unavoidable waste. In 2016/17, 94.5% of our waste was recycled, composted or sent for energy recovery. Some materials such as radioactive waste (a by-product of University research) and asbestos, are non-recyclable, so achieving 100% recycling rates is not currently possible. Nevertheless, we are working hard at improving our recycling rates in offices.

Due to our effective waste management processes, the equivalent carbon emissions from University waste for the 2016/17 academic year was 62 tCO2e, just 0.07% of our measured Scope 3 Emissions.


Our emissions from water usage are relatively low. In 2016/17, our emissions from water use and treatment totalled 458 tCO2e. This is measured by water meters installed across campus. 

As part of our campus upgrades, we are looking at ways in which we can introduce more efficient appliances to reduce water consumption.  


Our fleet is currently made up of 34% electric vehicles. This includes a number of electric cars, available for staff to use to travel around campus.

We’re continuously reviewing and replacing vehicles in our fleet as new models become available. We want our fleet to be 100% electric within five years.

Energy efficiency measures

We’re continuously investing in our infrastructure and estate to make it more energy-efficient. This includes LED lighting, improved heating and cooling systems and gas boiler replacements. 

Over the last ten years, we’ve invested over £5 million into these energy efficiency measures. This has resulted in a cumulative saving of almost 30,000 tCO2 since 2010. 


Our sustainability strategy

We have set the principles and direction for our Year 1 sustainability strategy.