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Environmental sustainability strategy

Creating a future that is sustainable will need us all to work together – and take bold steps.

The Environmental Sustainability Board has supported the University to draft a new environmental strategy. Hundreds of people from across our community contributed to the draft, which now is an approved strategy committing the University to be ‘net zero by 2035’. That is ten years ahead of the Scottish Government’s target. 

Vision

The University will continue to demonstrate visible leadership in environmental sustainability by achieving 'net zero by 2035'. This means net zero impact on the planet, encompassing emissions as well as stopping other forms of environmental degradation. No more greenhouse gases than we remove from the environment will be emitted. 

A living laboratory

The University sees itself as a living laboratory for developing sustainability accounting, including biodiversity, water use, water and air quality, as well as other emissions including chemicals, solid waste and greenhouse gases. While we report our progress to net zero by carbon, we will also include metrics of biodiversity and waste emissions. 

Areas of strategy

To lead change and reach net zero, the University works with five areas:

Research

As a part of the net zero strategy, the University continues to research on environmental sustainability, cultures that are more sustainable, and practical ways of action. We are committed to contributing with intellectual, interdisciplinary and world-leading research to make change. 

Education

We will ensure that all students are able to develop edge-cutting skills on environmental sustainability and are prepared for sustainable career pathways. In addition, we work on reducing the carbon footprint of teaching and field experiences whilst enhancing the quality and innovation of our curriculum. 

Student and community engagement

We work locally for a sustainable St Andrews. Building partnerships beyond the 'green bubble' and empowering students, locals and staff to take environmental sustainability action are key to achieve this. 

Estate, energy, and environment

By optimising the use and development of our estate, we enhance reductions of the University's carbon footprint. We further work on enhancing how we manage our energy demand and supply, biodiversity, and waste reduction to make our estate smarter and sustainable. 

Operational adaptation

Our operations are key to become a net zero university. Thus, we work with sustainable procurement, travel, digitalisation and recruitment to make sustainability a distinctive part of the University of St Andrews. 

Strategy document