The smart tech cutting universities’ energy bills

Emma Lawes, Programme Co-ordinator at Salix Finance, which has funded energy efficiency schemes in universities across the UK providing interest free loans, talks us through the five most effective technologies that it has found to have helped universities save money, reduce carbon emissions and improve operational efficiency

Leeds Beckett University

over four years. Once the loan is paid off, the university will be able to reinvest its savings into other areas. Brian Atkinson, Estates Manager at

Canterbury Christ Church University, says: “The university is grateful to the support that Salix has provided for LED lighting retrofit projects, which have resulted in significant energy savings, supporting the University’s carbon management plan.t due to the extended lamp life that LEDs provide maintenance costs have also been significant reduced.”

1) LED lighting With lighting accounting for a significant percentage of all electricity consumed across a university estate, inefficient fittings can accumulate energy costs. Upgrading older lighting with more efficient LED lamps can make huge annual financial savings, which can be further maximised by installing controls that ensure lighting is only used as and when it is needed. On top of the reduced energy consumption, and the accompanying environmental advantages, new LED lamps also benefit from longer lifespans, meaning extra savings when it comes to maintenance. Having worked with thousands of

projects across the country, Salix has seen at first-hand how much of an impact lighting retrofits can have on improving energy efficiency. Take Canterbury Christ Church University, for example. After embarking on a £140,000 project to convert classroom and corridor lighting into more efficient alternatives, the university has made carbon savings of around 125 tonnes per annum, and reduced its annual energy bill by approximately £32,660, paying off the investment in just

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2) Building energy management systems (BEMS) The central point of control for the operation of building services, BEMS provide an effective way of monitoring and adjusting equipment throughout a university such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning. With precise control, BEMS improve the reliability and performance of buildings, delivering substantial savings. Universities can typically save around

10% on their total building energy consumption and carbon footprint with the installation of a modern BEMS system. When you consider that the financial savings from the reduced maintenance costs are often even higher than those made from this decreased energy consumption, the advantages of installing BEMS becomes even clearer. Leeds Beckett University is expected to

save around £17,213 annually in energy costs and an estimated 76 tC02e after installing new BEMS and controls across their estate with the help of £66,534 of interest-free loans from Salix. The new installation allows the university to manage the temperature in individual rooms and kitchens using the wiring for the room panel heaters. Mark Warner, Head of Sustainability at

Leeds Beckett University, says: “The ability to control individual room temperatures gives us a huge amount of flexibility in terms of student comfort whilst still saving energy. The simple set up of the system means it’s almost fit-and-forget.”

University of Nottingham

3) Cooling system upgrades Conventional cooling technologies are often significant energy consumers, therefore, upgrading cooling systems can result in high carbon and financial savings. Key upgrades include improving controls and replacing existing equipment with more efficient alternatives and modern technologies such as free cooling. Using £1m of interest-free financing,

the University of Nottingham replaced an existing chiller with two high efficiency chillers serving its Medical School. Net energy bill savings for a full year are expected to be over £237,000, with lifetime financial savings of over £3.4m. Martin Oakes, Carbon Reduction

Manager at the University of Nottingham, says: “One of the main benefits of this project has been the significant energy and carbon savings. Over a three-month period last summer we reduced our steam consumption cost by £120,000 and made a net carbon saving of over 400 tonnes, while only using £20,000 of electricity.”

4) Laboratory upgrades Laboratories used for teaching and research can be energy intensive. For example, a single fume cupboard, a safety feature used to reduce exposure to hazardous substances, can consume as much as three times that of an average home in a year. Substantial carbon and financial savings can be made by

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