Unite Students, the UK’s largest provider of purpose built student accommodation, has signed a deal guaranteeing a fifth of its annual electricity will be sourced from renewable wind power for the next five years.
The deal, with npower, is the first of its kind in the rental sector and is one of the first steps in Unite Students becoming net-zero carbon by 2030.
The new agreement means energy will be provided to Unite Students from the Galawhistle windfarm in South Lanarkshire, Scotland.
The deal came into effect this month and according to a company statement is an important step alongside its “strong focus on improving energy efficiency across its existing buildings, and reducing the embodied carbon of new developments.”
So-called Power Purchase Agreements are increasingly being used to purchase renewable energy, providing corporate customers with longer-term price certainty and a link back to 100 per cent renewable source of origin, while also helping the developer of renewable generation can access the finance needed to develop new wind and solar farms.
Unite’s head of energy and environment James Tiernan says: “We are already looking at ways to increase the proportion of energy we buy under similar arrangements in the future.”
Unite Students’ five corporate sustainability commitments are:
- Targeting net-zero carbon operations and construction from 2030 – reduce carbon emissions from new and existing buildings in line with climate science, ahead of the timescale set out in the Paris Climate Agreement to avoid the worst impacts of climate change;
- Creating resilient, resource-efficient assets and operations – reduce the environmental impact of our new and existing buildings by improving energy and water efficiency, and also help its students to adopt lasting sustainable living habits;
- Enhancing the health and wellbeing of our employees and students – driving real improvements in physical and mental health and wellbeing based on an understanding of their needs, through improvements to our service model, physical assets and employee support programmes;
- Providing opportunities for all backed by new diversity targets – including students, employees and in the communities where we work, where all can succeed, whatever their background, gender or ethnicity;
- Leading the student housing sector – we will work to raise standards across the student housing sector and deliver value to our customers and investors.