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Students and staff help shape Net Zero roadmap

Published: 9 February 2023 at 15:56

Lord Ashcroft Building in Cambridge

ARU has key role in report setting recommendations for Government and sector

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has helped to shape a new report by the Royal Anniversary Trust which outlines an ambitious roadmap for decarbonisation of the tertiary education sector.

ARU staff and students contributed towards the year-long research project – The Platinum Jubilee Challenge – along with 21 universities and colleges from across the UK, which, like ARU, were recent winners of the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize

The resulting report, “Accelerating towards Net Zero”, is the first of its kind and highlights target areas for emissions reporting and reduction. 

It also proposes a new standardised carbon reporting framework which will enable all universities and colleges to measure, report and manage carbon emissions. It concludes with 14 clear recommendations to Government that will help accelerate progress towards Net Zero. 

These include establishing a UK-wide Decarbonisation Institute for the tertiary education sector to support the implementation of a low-carbon energy transition and Net Zero emissions in the built environment, extending 0% VAT rate relief to incentivise decarbonisation of the existing tertiary education building stock through low emissions refurbishment and retrofit, and fast-tracking the transformation of the National Grid to remove barriers that currently hamper the adoption of renewable technologies by the sector. 

The report also includes an ARU student-led project, which was one of only five student projects featured. Called “Rethinking energy efficiency: A new user-focused approach to energy and building use”, it aims to rethink energy efficiency by adopting a new user-focused approach to energy and building use.

The project involves using in-room monitoring technologies, while also taking into account building use and occupation levels, timetabling, estates information, and thermal comfort data of building users.

ARU’s innovative ARUgreen staff and student sustainability engagement platform is also highlighted in the report. ARUgreen uses gamification levers like monthly challenges and rewards to encourage behaviour change around travel, recycling, carbon reduction, and purchasing, alongside health and wellbeing. It also includes bi-monthly webinars, car sharing, and material exchange platforms. 

In 2020/21, the ARUgreen platform had almost 2,000 participants, logging over 45,000 actions, saving 13,800 disposable cups and bottles, and helping to reduce ARU’s carbon emissions by 76 tonnes. ARU staff and students can create their ARUgreen account at https://arugreen.teamjump.co.uk/

James Rolfe, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Lead for Sustainability at ARU, said:

“Following our Queen’s Anniversary Prize award in 2021, I am delighted that ARU has featured in this flagship Net Zero challenge.  Our research and campus operations teams have worked together on this pioneering project, alongside other universities and colleges, to develop a framework for carbon reporting.  

“The report demonstrates what is possible with effective collaboration and shared ambition, and provides a clear plan for our sector to achieve our critical zero carbon targets.” 


Kristina Murrin, CEO of The Royal Anniversary Trust, said:

“Our ambition was to bring together the extraordinary winners of the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes to collectively tackle a tough shared challenge. The resulting report sets out a clear action plan for the tertiary education sector to accelerate progress to Net Zero, with recommendations for institutions and government. We are enormously proud of the proposed carbon reporting Framework – if adopted sector-wide, this will allow for consistent, transparent, and data-led decision making.”


To find out more about sustainability at ARU visit www.aru.ac.uk/sustainability 

Sustainability at ARU

  • Through our Sustainability Strategy 2020-26, we're incorporating sustainability and environmental awareness into our teaching, research and University operations.
  • Our Global Sustainability Institute is dedicated to developing practical solutions to the sustainability challenges we all face, both locally and globally.