Carbon footprint


The University of Twente strives to be CO2 neutral by 2030. Every year since 2014, the UT publishes a carbon footprint report. From this year onwards, in addition to a yearly report, a digital dashboard is available: Older reports can be found at the bottom of this page. 

The CO2 footprint calculates the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the University’s activities as well as from the products and services it acquires. UT has been calculating its CO2 footprint since 2014 according to the greenhouse gas protocol which divides the emissions into three scopes, depending on the origin of the emissions. Part of the information the GHG protocol requires UT to record is published here in order to keep the CO2 report concise and readable for a broad audience. 

Total CO2 emissions 2022

Carbon footprint development

  • Steps taken

    The carbon footprint of 2022 with 6.6 kton is a significant reduction from 2019. The purchase of green electricity and compensation for the gas consumption as well as a reduction in flights compared to 2019 led to a significant decrease.

    The sharp drop in emissions in 2022 compared to previous years is largely attributable to the fact that UT now buys green electricity and compensates the emissions of its remaining gas use on campus. That means that on paper, the emissions of these sources go to 0. However, gas use also went down by 29%, largely due to more buildings being connected to the heat network instead of being heated by gas. As prevention of emissions is better than compensation, UT will continue to work on lowering its energy use in the future.

    Trias Energetica

    Since 2005 UT been part of the Long Term Agreements on energy efficiency. The essence of the agreements is to realise a reduction in energy consumption of 30% over 15 years. 2020 was the last year of this agreement and UT has more than realised this reduction. The approach taken focusses on the Trias Energetica: limiting the demand for energy, using sustainably generated energy and when necessary, use energy generated by fossil fuels as efficiently as possible. At the page on Energy initiatives you can find more detail on what specific measures have been implemented. Also information on the Energy Roadmap (developed as part of the national Climate Agreement) can be found there.

    Other initiatives implemented to reduce UT’s CO2 footprint can be found here.

  • Changes due to Corona

    The best way to analyse the impact of the COVID measures is to look at electricity. Gas and district heating usage is affected by outside air temperature and humidity and is more complicated to find causal relationships.

    Concerning electricity, the usage has decreased in 2020 compared to 2019. In the month of April this reduction was 32%, but over the entire year the reduction was 10% as buildings came back into use (even if occupation rates were low) and 24h ventilation required more electricity.

  • CO2 compensation

    Starting in 2022, UT fully compensates all CO2 emissions caused by the use of gas (scope 1) and electricity (scope 2) on campus. This is done by purchasing green electricity and through Voluntary Emission Reduction (VER) for gas use.

    In 2022, the ITC faculty compensated all their flights via Gold Standard projects in developing countries, the BIOS group compensated their flights buying Green sands certificates and via Travel Unit all UT flights with KLM and Lufthansa are compensated using Airmiles points.

  • Additional information related to the GHG protocol

    Two methodologies that are widespread to calculate the CO2 footprint are the greenhouse gas protocol and the ISO 14064 standard. These standards ask to detail the following information. In order to keep the main CO2 report concise and clear, this supporting information is only detailed here.

    The greenhouse gas protocol was developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The protocol provides standards and guidance for preparing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The principles underpinning this protocol are: relevance, completeness, consistency, accuracy and transparency.

    Contact person UT for CO2 footprint: Brechje Maréchal

    Reporting period: Yearly, latest version: 2022

    Base year: 2014 (first year the CO2 footprint reporting was conducted). The base year used in the strategy Shaping 2030 is 2020.

    Organisational boundaries

    All buildings that UT manages are included in the organizational boundary. Student housing and buildings managed by external companies are not included; buildings that are off-campus such as the ITC faculty building and ITC hotel are included. Appendix I of the 2019 CO2 footprint report contains a list of all buildings that have been included in the CO2 footprint.

    Operational boundary

    The operational boundary involves the identification of the emissions associated with UT’s operations. These emissions are categorized as direct and indirect emissions and divided into scope 1, 2 and 3. Direct emissions are emissions from sources that are controlled by the company. Indirect emissions are emissions that do not occur on campus but are a result of the activities UT conducts.

    Scope 1: Direct emissions – GHG emissions due to gas consumption for air humidification and heating, fuel consumption of vehicles owned by UT and the refilling of air conditioning systems with refrigerants.

    Scope 2: Indirect emissions –  GHG emissions from the generation of purchase of electricity which is consumed by UT.

    Scope 3: Indirect emissions –  GHG emissions due to the activities by UT which are not in the control of UT.

    Scope 3 is optional. UT strives to include as much data as possible which is relevant and for which reliable information can be obtained.

    The GHG protocol has several categories scope 3 emissions that need to be assessed:

    • Extraction and production of materials and fuels
    • Transport-related activities
      • Transportation of purchased materials or goods
      • Transportation of purchased fuels
      • Employee business travel
      • Employee commuting to and from work
      • Transportation of waste

    • Electricity-related activities
      • Fuel and fuel use not included in scope 1 and 2

    • Leased assets, outsources activities
    • Use of sold products and services
    • Waste disposal
      • Disposal of waste generated in operations
      • Disposal of waste generated in the production of purchased materials and fuels
      • Disposal of sold products at the end of their life

    In order to determine which scope 3 categories are relevant, the protocol suggests to consider emissions that 1. are large relative to the scope 1 and 2 emissions, 2. contribute to the strategy of the organisation, 3. are deemed critical by stakeholders, 4. are emissions that can be influenced by UT.

    UT decided to focus since 2019 on the categories also mentioned in the UT strategy : Water, waste, procurement, mobility: commuting and business travel. Mobility is a major GHG-generating activity.

    UT has many contracts, large and small. Some suppliers have all the CO2 data available, others not yet. The aim is to increase the input received from all suppliers. By having a more complete overview it shows opportunities where gains can be made. By increasing scope 3 it also becomes clearer what the influence of staff and student’s choices is on scope 3 of the CO2 footprint. It will contribute to increasing awareness of everyone’s impact on the CO2 footprint.

    List of scope 3 categories

    For 2019 information was received from the following value chain partners: the waste collection company, florist, catering, chemicals, printing, electricity, district heating, green maintenance contractor, hardware, infrastructural works, maintenance installations, office articles (paper), coolants, hotel/meeting locations, maintenance building works, employment agency, public transport, travel agency, rented transportation, launderette and the moving companies. Data on commuting and work travel is included as well.

    The data collected by the various companies varies. Some suppliers do not have quantitative data but do take steps to reduce their CO2 footprint and show this by sharing a certificate, for example florist Thuys received the Certificate for Sustainable Florist (silver). UT aims to stimulate the increase in the availability and the reliability of this data by including this as a criterium in tender processes. All data used for these companies was provided to UT by these companies.

    Transport related to purchased goods and services have now been included in their integral CO2 reporting while in previous years the GHG emissions of transport and deliveries to the university was estimated separately. Therefore, since 2019 this is not indicated separately anymore.

    Transport data for commuting dates from a survey conducted by UT in 2011. We aim to update this data this year to be able to include a more accurate figure for the CO2 footprint of 2020. Due to the corona measure of working from home, this update may have to be postponed until the commuting movements have normalised. Business travel data is provided by the travel agency which books all flights. There seems to be a difference in calculations of the CO2 emissions between companies and this will be further analysed in the following CO2 footprint reports.

    Leased assets have not been included into the CO2 footprint of 2019.

    Quantification methods

    The quantification of scope 1 emissions comes from the energy meters of UT buildings and from the gas provider, the refrigerant provider and for fuel consumption by UTs own vehicles the record of the petrol usage was used. The details of scope 2 emissions come from the energy meters at UT buildings complemented by the electricity and district heating companies. This data is very accurate and reliable.

    The quantification of scope 3 emissions is dependent on the methodology used by the relevant company. Emission factors used are taken from this list of standard emission factors. For train travel the data provided by the Dutch Railways is used, for commuting the data from the 2011 survey on commuting adjusted for increasing student and staff numbers. The commuting data needs updating but using the available numbers adjusted for increased staff and students are the best available option for 2019.

    Changes compared to previous years

    The Dutch electricity mix changed in 2017. While the consumed energy did not increase, the emissions related to this did. The reference figures used for the calculations of the emissions are nationwide figures and this lies outside of our control.

    District heating used from 2014 to 2018 was considered ~ 50% CO2-neutral (heat derived from the burning of waste). In 2018 onwards, the district heating delivered to UT is considered 100% CO2-neutral as it comes from the bio-energy installation.

    Reference documents

    Emission factors

    Greenhouse gas protocol

    ISO 14064 standard