Case study: University of Reading – Carbon Reduction Strategy

Case study: University of Reading – Carbon Reduction Strategy

In 2010, the University of Reading designed and implemented a Carbon Management Programme with the assistance of the Carbon Trust. Their motivation to reduce emissions through this programme was partly triggered by the announcement of the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s goal of a sector-wide 43% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, and partly for financial reasons, in recognition of spiralling energy costs. To kick off the programme, a Carbon Management Plan was drawn up, identifying carbon reduction opportunities and setting an overall emissions reduction target of 45% by 2020, with an interim target of 35% by July 2016.

The development of this Carbon Management Plan was essential to making the business case for carbon reduction, identifying that a £3.5m investment in energy efficiency up to July 2016 could yield £18.5m in cumulative savings. It also ensured that senior management bought in to the programme, including endorsement of the programme and the carbon reduction targets by the Vice Chancellor. A Carbon Management Board chaired by the then Deputy Vice Chancellor was established and is supported at implementation level by the University’s Carbon Management Team.

This governance structure has been a key facilitator of progress throughout the programme. Dan Fernbank, Energy Manager at the University of Reading, said, “the governance structure established in the Carbon Management Plan was integral to achieving 23% carbon reduction by July 2014, through ongoing senior management support, a clear decision making process and raising the profile of the programme”. The business case for investment has been regularly reviewed, updated and reported against to track the progress of the programme. To date, £2.35m has been invested and has provided a £8.5m saving for the University and its partners.

The University found that the key to progression was to keep the scope of projects broad, rather than concentrating on only a few common technologies. This diversity meant that carbon was reduced from all angles, including efficiency improvements, BMS controls and technology upgrades. Example projects include:

• Insulation programme – plantroom pipe lagging, roof insulation and draught proofing saving 1,100 tCO2 annually
• IT server upgrades – saving 1,100 tCO2 annually
• Lighting upgrades – efficient lighting with intelligent sensors – saving 775 tCO2 annually
• BMS/controls expansion and upgrades – saving 550 tCO2 annually
• Fume cupboard ventilation upgrades - saving 500 tCO2 annually
• Heating plant/control upgrades - saving 600 tCO2 annually
• Ventilation and air conditioning upgrades – saving 400 tCO2 annually

In addition to these specific interventions, there has been a major programme to replace ageing halls of residence with new facilities, including the refurbishment of the London Road campus and the closure of the Bulmershe campus and two off-campus halls of residence. This led to savings of approximately 4,000 tCO2 annually, whilst simultaneously increasing the total halls of residence bedroom numbers.

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university, accommodation, Carbon Trust, carbon management, carbon reduction plan, energy efficiency, collaboration, campus

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The Carbon Trust

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The Carbon Trust is a world-leading organisation helping businesses, governments and the public sector to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy through carbon reduction, energy-saving strategies and commercialising low carbon technologies. Read more


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