Since 2010 the University has been driving down carbon emissions and by 2020/21 had achieved a 42% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions compared with a 2005 baseline. This is significant progress which was driven by our investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and behaviour change initiatives.

In 2020, the University committed to a set of ambitious new targets, including Net Zero Carbon by 2030. This covers all University activities and includes scope 3 emissions. For the latest progress, including KPIs, please see our latest annual report.

Download the Carbon and Energy Plan

Download the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Report

Download our Energy Policy Statement

Download our Energy Code of Practice

co2 emissions graph

Tons CO2




Scope 1




Scope 2








Capital investment

In 2021 and 2022 the University secured over £16 million in grants through the public sector decarbonisation scheme. The grants enabled the upgrading of renewable energy infrastructure on campus, the installation of a 1MW air source heat pump, a 1MWh battery, insulation of the two large aircraft hangars, improvements to the district heating, new building management systems and LED lighting.

We are making continuous improvements to increase energy efficiency – look out for further project work on campus.

As well as reducing our carbon emissions, we are also looking to publish a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy by the end of 2023. This will detail ways in which we can build resilience to extreme weather in a sustainable way.

Biomass boiler

In 2016, we installed a biomass boiler which helps to heat the campus. This was made possible through the award of a Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The biomass boiler has made a significant contribution to our carbon savings target. This is fuelled by sustainably sourced woodchip from a local supplier. The boiler room is also available to support our research and teaching.

Please watch the video below for further information.

Energy Centre

Located centrally on campus, the Energy Centre includes two 1MW air source heat pumps, a water source heat pump, a hydrogen-ready boiler and battery storage for renewable energy (made from second life batteries). This was built with funding from a Public Sector Decarbonisation grant.

Combined heat and power plant

In 2010/11 we invested £2 million in a combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The CHP unit generates about 55-60% of our annual usage. By generating electricity on site we are also able to make use of the additional heat produced by the CHP in our expanding district heating network.

Salix projects

We have access to a Salix Revolving Loan Fund which was created by matching funds from Salix and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The funds are available to invest in energy-efficient technologies and energy-saving initiatives which payback within four years. The financial savings resulting from these investments pay back into the loan fund and are available to invest in new projects across the University.

Some Salix projects have included:

  • Upgrade to district heating pipework,
  • Biomass boiler installation,
  • Combined heat and power (CHP) installation,
  • PV (photovoltaic) farm installation,
  • Addition of new buildings to the district heating system,
  • LED lighting installations.

Behaviour change

Through the positive actions of our staff and students we have been able to achieve extensive energy savings. Active participation in our annual carbon-saving campaigns and ‘Christmas Shut-Down’ contests have proved very popular and helped to make a big difference in reducing energy use on our Cranfield campus. Find out more on our green events and activities page.

Solar farm

In Spring 2018, we installed 2 hectares of 1 MW solar PV array on the far side of the airfield. In 2023, we built another solar farm south of the campus. Since expansion, solar arrays on campus now provide over 10% of the campus energy and saves over 500 tonnes of CO2 per year. For further information, please watch our video below.

ISO 50001 energy management system certification

Cranfield University is officially certified for ISO 50001 for its energy management system. Our Energy Management System Manual sets out the system to manage energy at Cranfield campus in line with the International Standard for Energy Management Systems ISO 50001:2011.

ISO 50001 Manual

Download the Certificate of Approval