CO2 footprint

Utrecht University plans to be CO2 neutral by 2030 and aims for a 33% reduction in 2020 as compared to 2014. Since 2014, the university has published their annual greenhouse gas emissions, with total CO2 emissions in 2019 amounting to 62,780 tonnes. This is 1% more than in 2018. In 2019, the carbon footprint was 17,311 tonnes (22%) less than in 2014. Since 2014, the UU has emitted a total of 402,000 tonnes of CO2.

The most important developments in 2019 are interventions and decisions that will have an impact on the footprint in the coming years: real estate renewal, sustainable travel and a re-organisation of agricultural activities. Together, preliminary calculations show that these measures will result in the UU emitting less CO2 in the coming decade than it did in the past six years.

The underlying figure shows Utrecht University's CO2 emissions over the years.

While the UU is preparing a major energy transition for the entire campus, a reliable heat and electricity supply is necessary for education and research. Currently, this energy source comes from the UU's own gas-fired power station. Within the next ten years this energy source will become redundant as the UU plans to heat the campus from sustainable sources.

Why did emissions increase slightly in 2019? This is because the power station had to supply a greater proportion of the energy budget as one of the boiler houses was being renovated. Because the power station not only supplies heat but also electricity, the UU therefore purchased less ‘green’ wind energy, so the energy mix became a little more 'grey'.

In 2019, the university generated more than 3% of its energy from its own renewable sources. Together with the purchase of wind energy and green gas certificates, the share of renewable energy was 25% of the total energy mix. The university aims to source 100% of its energy requirements from local and renewable sources by 2030. Without the purchase of wind energy and green gas, emissions in 2019 would be 70,445 tonnes.

Composition of CO2 emissions Utrecht University: 2014-2019

The figure below illustrates the main causes behind the University’s carbon emissions.

*CO2 emissions relate to the following greenhouse gases: CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6 and NF3.