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 is now an approved strategy committing the University to be ‘net zero by 2035’ – ten years ahead of the Scottish Government’s target.

The envrionmental sustainability strategy outlines the University’s plan to achieve net zero by 2035 by reducing our emissions as much as possible and compensating for emissions that are unavoidable.


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. 

We recognise that greenhouse gas emissions are a proxy for wider environmental sustainability, which encompasses areas such as biodiversity and the minimisation of waste, so we have also set ourselves the targets of being Nature Positive and Climate Adaptive by 2035.

We have a long way to go but, so far, we having been working on clean energy, behaviour change, and offsetting to continue reducing our footprint and have so far:

  • reduced the University’s carbon footprint by 15%
  • connected 25% of our buildings to a clean energy supply (produced at our Eden Campus biomass plant)
  • planted more than 1000 trees for biodiversity and carbon capture through the St Andrews Forest iniative
  • developed the Training in Environmental Sustainability Action (TESA) module for all new students
  • launched a sustainable investments policy to guide how University endowment funds are managed.

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 such as 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 across the following five areas.


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


We will ensure that all students are able to develop cutting-edge skills on environmental sustainability and are prepared for sustainable career pathways. We also 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 achieving a sustainable town. 

Estate, energy, and environment

By optimising the use and development of our estate, we directly reduce 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 more sustainable. 

Operational adaptation

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

Strategy document