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Scotland’s HE and FE sectors respond to immediate need for net-zero estates

Four students from The University of Edinburgh on top of Carlton Hill in Edinburgh

12 Aug 2021

The University of Edinburgh in collaboration with a number of industry partners has published its report exploring ways in which to reach zero and low carbon targets through innovation in construction in Scottish Higher and Further Education. 

The project has been funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) as part of the Climate Emergency Collaboration Challenge, set up to fund new business and academic partnerships to tackle climate change and assist Scotland’s transition to a net zero emissions economy. 

This publication comes in the week when the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) laid out its findings labelled as “code red for humanity” by UN secretary general António Guterres. This highlights the importance of Scotland’s Higher and Further Education sectors ensuring that their estates are energy efficient and are working in line to meet Scotland’s climate change goals. 

The report examines where university and public sector clients must work more collaboratively with construction partners to ensure the delivery of zero-carbon buildings.

Managed by the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute (ECCI), the project has been built on the university’s existing expertise of low carbon solutions in the construction sector. The goal has been to bring together key players in construction, architecture academia, and design, to harness expert knowledge and experience and drive meaningful action.  

Mike Cantlay, Chair of the Scottish Funding Council said,

“As we work towards a net zero economy, it is imperative that the estates of Scotland’s institutions match this common goal. This report from Edinburgh University, in response to SFC's Climate Emergency Collaboration Challenge, clearly shows how collaboration between construction, academia, architecture and design sectors can lead to some real green solutions.  This will help in removing the barriers to zero-carbon built developments across the higher and further education sector.” 

Grant Ferguson – Interim Director of Estates at The University of Edinburgh said,

“The university’s complex estate presents many unique challenges, which we must overcome as part of the university's commitment to net zero across all of our international operations by 2040.  We recognise the importance of decarbonising our estate, not just to remove our own emissions, but also because of our role as a global sustainability leader and an anchor institution in a world heritage city.  Realising our ambitions requires a whole institution approach with low or zero carbon embedded as a key priority into a long term programme, and harnessing both specialist and academic expertise to lead the way for higher and further education, and for the wider public sector estate.”