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Estates management 2017/18 - Scope 3 carbon emissions from staff commutingScope3CarbonEmissionsFromStaffCommuting

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Estates management 2017/18

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Scope 3 carbon emissions from staff commuting

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Short nameScope3CarbonEmissionsFromStaffCommuting

The fields in this entity contain data about scope 3 carbon emissions from staff commuting.

Applicable toEngland Northern Ireland Scotland Wales

All higher education providers (HEPs).


This is scope 3 emissions in total greenhouse gas emissions (tonnes) from academic and support staff travelling to and from their home address to the HEP.

It is anticipated that scope 3 commuter travel emissions data may not be readily available on an annual basis. It is therefore currently acceptable for HEPs to use travel survey data from within the previous two years.

Following the 2008 Climate Change Act, the UK government bodies and Higher Education Funding Councils developed strategies for reducing carbon emissions in higher education. These include a commitment to consistency in the reporting of Scope 3 data, which lead to the voluntary collection of scope 3 emissions through the Estates Management record. For consistency across the sector, Office for Students have provided guidance on measuring scope 3 carbon emissions. Further details of policies on reducing carbon emissions by country can be found below.

England - Carbon reduction target and strategy for higher education in England.

Wales - Carbon Management Policy.

Scotland - Public Sector Sustainability Reporting Guidance.

Northern Ireland - Carbon Reduction.

Identifying scope 1 and scope 3 travel emissions

In order to avoid double counting, scope 1 travel emissions need to be identified and reported separately from scope 3 travel emissions. Scope 1 travel emissions should be provided under Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions.

Determining the scope of emissions from HEP travel will depend on a range of factors including:

  • the type of travel being undertaken (e.g. if it is business travel or commuter travel),
  • whether the mode of transport is owned or leased by the HEP,
  • how the transport asset has been accounted for by the HEP.

Business travel emissions resulting from the use of any mode of transport that is not owned or leased by a HEP, and virtually all modes of commuter travel, should be recorded as scope 3 emissions.

Scope 1 travel emissions may include those generated by academics, support staff or students travelling for business purposes using modes of transport that are owned or leased by a HEP. Modes of transport that are owned by an HEP and used for business travel should always be recorded as scope 1 emissions, whilst the scope of emissions from leased modes of transport used for business purposes will depend on how the asset has been accounted for. Leased modes of transport used for business purposes will be recorded as either scope 1 or scope 3 emissions.

Emission conversion factors

Prior to the 2011/12 Estates Management Statistics record, the conversion factor used was based on carbon dioxide (C02) per unit. However, from the 2011/12 Estates Management Statistics record onwards, the alternative Defra measure of equivalent carbon dioxide (C02e) is used instead. This change accounts for additional Greenhouse Gases, including CH4 and N20.

The Defra conversion factors and guidance provide the conversion factors as well as supplemental information. Furthermore, HEFCE scope 3 carbon emissions guidance was commissioned to help the higher education sector in measuring and reporting scope 3 carbon emissions.

Calculating emissions

To calculate emissions from different modes of travel multiply activity data (e.g. fuel used or distance travelled) by the appropriate conversion factor.

Emissions can be calculated using fuel consumption data or distance travelled data. Distance travelled data uses average emission factors for different modes of transport and is not as accurate as fuel consumption data.

For public transport (like rail travel) emissions are reported on a per passenger kilometre basis, rather than per vehicle kilometre (which is how emissions from motor cars or vans are reported). HEPs should use the most accurate emission conversion factors possible based on the data that they have available.

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