In order to make the College more sustainable, we have been looking to understand the current position of the College's emissions and what actions might be taken to reduce these. As a starting point, the College is looking to implement a programme of works with the aim of hitting Net Carbon Zero by 2038.

Clare College has carried out two related studies on the College’s carbon footprint and how to reach Net Zero.

  • Firstly, a College sponsored fourth year engineering project to summarise the College’s carbon footprint and make recommendations on how to reduce this.
  • Secondly, the commissioning of a specialist consultant to plot a route map to Net Carbon Zero in terms of College Buildings.

Together these two projects give a clear picture of the College’s current emissions and a starting point for reaching Net Zero. 

Carbon Footprint

The Carbon footprint project included a new system of carbon accounting, which better ranks the College’s emissions based on level of control. The scope system used for the footprint can be seen below.

Carbon Footprint Statistics

The use of this revised scope system found c. 33% of emissions not previously accounted for.

Clare's Carbon Footprint, J Bream

College emissions 2019-20 and 2020-21, Joey Bream

Clare College’s emissions are dominated by a small number of sources – gas, electricity, food, and waste production. Together these account for 97% of the College’s footprint in the baseline (19-20) year. Of these, gas use was the single largest contributor to emissions, with the gas used at Memorial Court alone comprising 25% of the total footprint. This makes it clear that reducing gas use, and ultimately removing the College’s reliance on gas for heating and hot water, is crucial for the transition to Net Zero.

Net Zero Strategy

The College commissioned a Route Map to Net Zero from Element Energy in 2022. This drew on the carbon footprint project, with a focus on the College’s built estate and how to transition to low carbon heating.

The Route Map highlights the need for ‘fabric first’ improvements, making energy efficiency improvements wherever possible on the College’s estate. There is also a plan to transfer to electric heating, using a mixture of air-, ground-, and river-source systems. Owing to the age, historic importance, and listed nature of the College’s estate, this is a long-term project.

The highlighted interventions from the Route Map have been added into the Colleges 10 year Capital Programme. This includes the electrification of the heating in Memorial Court, the College's single largest source of emissions.

In summer 2022, the first College building (Alpha Road) was upgraded to run on an Air Source Heat Pump, and a project is also underway in 2022-23 to upgrade Braeside at Castle Court to run on an Air Source Heat Pump.