People & Planet University League 2021

The People & Planet League is an annual ranking of UK Universities based on environmental and ethical performance. The last assessment took place in 2019, in which the University of Exeter achieved 36th place (2:1 status), and it is due to be re-lauched this year. This page has been developed to improve the ease of access to information relating to the People and Planet, and for the sake of transparency with our University community and the general public. You can view the full scoring methodology here. ‌



Institutional sustainability policy At the University of Exeter we have a bespoke Environment and Climate Emergency Policy, which was signed-off by our Vice-Chancellor in October 2020. The policy includes our 4 core climate emergency goals, accompanied by Senior Leadership commitments to achieve by 2025. The E&CE Policy looks to mobilise the delivery of a first phase of the 288 recommendation contained within the Environment and Climate Emergency Working Group Report (2019). The policy is reviewed annually at the end of the academic year by the Environment & Climate Emergency (E&CE) board, which is chaired by the University’s Provost and Registrar. Policy progress is reported on annually via the publication of our Environment & Carbon Year End Report, an archive of which is housed on the website here.
SMART Targets for reducing environmental impact

The E&CE Policy has set SMART targets across the following areas to achieve by 2025 which are reported on annually;


-Construction & Refurbishment
-Emissions & Discharges
-Community Involvement
-Waste Management
-Travel & Transport
-Sustainable Procurement


Note baseline carbon emissions for each area can be found in the latest Year End Report. The E&CE team are currently in the process of developing bespoke strategies including the Sustainable Design Guide, Environmental Net Gain, Travel & Transport, Water and Heat Decarbonisation. Carbon Scorecards are used internally across the University to measure and track progress and drive continual improvement. KPI Dashboard reporting (see example in development here) is being introduced to the E&CE Board to further improve progress tracking of key actions.



Senior Responsibility The Environment & Climate Emergency Board is chaired by the Registrar and Provost and has a committee of key academic and professional service staff and students, and recognises the leadership required at all levels across the University to mobilise and embed the E&CE Agenda. Additionally, Sarah Buck and Glenn Woodcock are the Council Leads for Environmental Sustainability. The E&CE Policy includes members of the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group and Senior Leadership Teams who are also accountable for the achievement of specific E&CE Targets by 2025.
Dedicated Sustainability Staff

The University of Exeter has a dedicated Environment & Climate Emergency Team that is led by Dr Emma Page. The team consists of 10 full-time and 2 part-time individuals, with job descriptions and contact details featured in the key contacts section of the website. In addition academics and members of the professional service teams lead on Thematic forums and Climate Action plans across all parts of the University as a community of Champions to embed the E&CE Agenda.

Budget for Sustainability The budget allocated for the E&CE Team to progress sustainability projects for the coming academic year (2021/22) is £546,000 and during 2020/21 E&CE Projects have received £450,000. Resourcing for E&CE initiatives has enabled the recruitment of the dedicated E&CE team. The budget is reviewed on an annual basis by the E&CE Board and the Capital Investment Group (CIG). An example of our financed Scope 1 and 2 Project Pipeline can be accessed here.
Staff Engagement Scheme

Green Rewards is our institutional engagement platform which rewards students and staff for taking actions that improve both sustainability and wellbeing. Green Rewards has so far amassed >800 sign-ups from staff and students who have completed ~40,000 positive sustainable actions, saving 45,000kg of CO2 through energy saving, recycling and meat free days (see our Green Rewards May Report). The system can be accessed here, or alternatively via Android or iOS app.


We have also launched the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) with the target of all University of Exeter labs achieving an accreditation before the end of the year (2021). LEAF empowers all lab users to get involved in ensuring their lab practices are as sustainable as possible. The Exeter Sustainable Labs Team site provides a platform to discuss new practices and any barriers, and we highlight all accredited labs and LEAF Champions on the website.


Staff can also participate in progressing our Environment & Climate Emergency initiatives by joining a Thematic Forum (see details at the end of the key contacts page) or their College / Departmental Climate Action Group. We also welcome expressions of interest to get involved via the Climate Emergency inbox ( 



ISO14001 Our ISO14001 Environmental Management System is in place which cover 100% of the University of Exeter Estate. We passed a Partial Remote Re-Certification in April 2021, with a full site audit due September 2021. All EMS documentation is housed on our SharePoint Site.

Please note that our audit process is currently being updated as part of our ISO14001 Environmental Management System. Recent audits have taken place for the following;


- Waste Management (Waste Audit Findings Report, Waste Audit Progress Report)
- Travel & Transport (Parked Cycle Counts)
- Energy (Building by Building League Table)
- Biodiversity (Bi-annual Bird Surveys - Spring/Summer and Winter)
- Construction & Refurbishment (Building Refrigeration AuditHatherly Energy Savings)
- Water (Propelair Water SavingsWater Savings Audit Exeter)
- Sustainable Procurement as part of Net Positive Futures and we were recently audited against the ISO20400 standard (report due August 2021).



Investment Policy

Our Ethical Investment Policy was approved by Council in March 2021. It includes Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) values, which inform decisions for the entire portfolio of investments. It includes a commitment for;


Full Divestment – 3.5 Council have currently determined that it wishes to exclude investments in entities that produce tobacco and entities that are involved in the extraction of fossil fuels. This was also publicly communicated via press release. See clause 3.6 For further details on the policy exclusions.


Student representation is present on Council via the attendance of elected Students’ Union and Students’ Guild representatives. Additionally, the policy details student representation on the Endowment and Investment Group (Clause 8.2).


A list of University investments is published annually as part of the Financial Report – see our 2019-20 Report (page 77).


The finance website collates all information including;
Ethical Investment Policy, Annual list of investments, and signposts to the Capital Investment Group Secretary for information regarding investment committee membership and meeting minutes.



Management Plan

The E&CE Team publish an annual Environment & Carbon Year End Report, which is publicly available, and details progress towards our E&CE Policy which is endorsed by our Vice-Chancellor. The year-end report includes the following;


- Our institutional 2018/19 carbon emissions baseline, including scope 1, 2 and 3  (page 4).

- Our carbon reduction targets programme to reach net zero by 2050 at the very latest, including all scopes (page 8). See our short ‘Carbon Reduction Commitments’ video.

- Infographic of achievements for the 2019/20 academic year (page 2) demonstrates the variety of projects completed. This is evidence of the institutional financial investment to E&CE work, as detailed above under ‘budget for sustainability’.

- Details the phases of our Carbon Net Zero Programme including the launch of College / Departmental Action Plans and in-year tracking of goals to regularly monitor and report on our progress towards Net Zero (page 3).


On 20th May 2021 the University launched its Carbon And Environmental Roadmap to Net Zero, this sets out the steps planned on the delivery programme. Sitting behind this is a detailed schedule of actions which will form the basis of future reports. 

Scope 1 & 2 We calculate total carbon emissions attributed to residential accommodation, including in-house and externally provided accommodation e.g. UPP, INTO buildings. See our Building by Building League Table.
Scope 3

As scope 3 is the largest section of our emissions footprint at the University of Exeter we have made the decision to include all carbon scopes in our emissions reduction plan to net zero.


Baseline emissions, and aggregated reduction targets can be viewed in our Environment & Carbon Year End Report, additional targets can be found in our E&CE Policy. Including; waste, water, procurement, business travel and local travel.



Living Wage

The University has been a Living Wage Foundation Employer since 2013 – see here.

Outsourced Staff Regulations regarding agency workers (parity of pay, pensions terms and conditions) can be found here. Additional information can be found under our Fair Employment for All section of the website (tab 2).

We are a Fairtrade institution, and have a Fairtrade Policy and Fairtrade SMART action plan (2019-20). Plus we have achieved a one star accreditation in the Fairtrade University and College Award.

Electronics Watch We have electronics watch affiliate membership via the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium.




The Sustainable Food Policy is publicly available and is reviewed yearly with Senior Leadership Teams at Directorate level. This policy covers tender specifications with external partners.

Framework for Continual Improvement Catering and Retail services achieved a 2 star accreditation against the Sustainable Restaurant Association Framework in September 2019. The full report can be viewed here.
Staff & Student Projects

The University supports multiple student and staff led projects with a focus on sustainable food, including;


-          Exeter Community Garden
-          Exeter VegShare
-          Penryn Produce




The University does not have a bespoke policy for engagement with Sustainable Development, however the E&CE Policy Ownership and Engagement section has relevant targets with senior sponsors to be achieved by 2025.

Engagement Opportunities

Staff and students are encouraged to engage with the implementation of our E&CE agenda by partaking in;


- Thematic Forums (Thematic Forum Terms of Reference)
- Student Societies Alliance (SSA Terms of Reference‌)
- The development of Carbon Action Plans
- Climate Action Workshops with each College / Professional Service team led by the E&CE team


We also host an annual Sustainability Week for our University Community. Our most recent Sustainability Week took place in March 2021.


We also provide funds for student-led sustainability projects through the Societies Sustainability Alliance and our Student Initiative Fund, which has been financed as part of the institutional Green Recovery.


Our LearnUpon Environment and Climate Emergency induction training is currently being re-developed and will form part of our wider Climate Literacy Training for all staff and students. Sustainability forms part of all staff inductions – see tab 4. There is also E&CE representation at the virtual welcome event induction for staff.


For students, we circulate the Climate Companion Pack as part of the New Students Guide, this online magazine details our climate emergency progress to date and how students can get involved from day one at the University of Exeter. Our annual update ahead of the new academic year is currently underway.


The University has launched the South West Climate Action Network (SWeCAN) to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and collaboration between our staff and student community and the region.


Student and staff also collaborate through research projects with local businesses, see the green futures website for a list of participating organisations including TEVI and Exeter City Futures.

 Committee Representation  Student representation is present on the following committees;


- Council – elected Guild and Students’ Union representation
- Senate
- Ethics Committee
- All Environment & Climate Emergency Thematic Forums


Trade Union representatives are part of our Silver Incident Response Team, and are therefore part of open discussions regarding our way forward, including regarding our climate agenda. Further guidance on trade union representation can be found here

 Students' Unions  Our Students’ Union at Penryn Campus is currently developing their own Sustainability Policy and accompanying action plan. They have a designated staff member responsible for sustainability (see their Student Engagement Coordinator's profile). Our Students’ Guild has set up a Sustainability Grant for societies and groups. The Students’ Guild VP Activities and Students’ Union President Student Experience are part of the Societies Sustainability Alliance monthly meetings with the E&CE Team. 



Strategy & Senior Responsibility

The E&CE Policy statement 23 details a commitment to embed the Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Emergency Across the curriculum. This is owned by Prof Tim Quine (Deputy Vice Chancellor for Education).

The Education Strategy 2019-25 has used the UN Sustainable Development Goals to inform the priorities outlined, such as an emphasis on global citizens and agents of change. Additionally, our Business Manager to the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) is producing an Education Review Framework.

Living Lab

The institution has a large focus on delivering living lab opportunities for student, some examples include;

-          Pivot Project with the Global Systems Institute
-          On campus squirrel research
-          On campus bee research
-          Green Consultants Energy Project Report

Research for Sustainable Development

For more than 20 years we have been leading the way in interdisciplinary research to better understand and tackle environment and climate change.

- See the Green Futures website for information about our Research Institutes here
- See the Global System Institutions SDG aligned research here
- Find out more about the research taking place at our Environment & Sustainability Institute here.


See the Sanctuary Scholarship – we offer a minimum of 3 scholarships a year to individuals who are seeking asylum or have been granted a status as a result of an asylum claim and cannot access student finance. Eligible applicants include those who have limited leave to remain, Humanitarian Protection and Refugee status, if they are unable to access student finance. We also offer a partial fee waiver to any undergraduate student who is seeking asylum, which reduces their fee to the home rate.

See our Access and Participation Plan which details financial support and our commitment to better understand and address barriers for under-represented groups.



Energy Sources Our total percentage of renewable energy purchased through green tariffs is 46.4%. Please note there has been an error with our HESA submission for this category (EPREPGTT).
Waste & Recycling

Our other works (construction) waste mass for 2019/20 HESA is as follows;


Other Works Recycled (EOWMREC): 119.951 tonnes
“ Incineration (EOWMINC): 0
“ Composting (EOWMCOM): 0
“ Anaerobic Digestion (EOWMADI): 0.793 tonnes
“ Landfill (EOWMLAN): 0
“ Used to Create Energy (EOWMENE): 1.030 tonnes
“ Other (EOWMOTH): 81.716 tonnes
“ Total (EOWMT): 203.490 tonnes (estimated)