So how does a university stay on track to make 34% energy reductions by 2020 based on a 2005 consumption with a growing estate and increasing demand from staff and students?
Richard Hipkiss, Managing Director at digitalenergy is adamant: “Control is key.” He adds: “Before you can effectively manage consumption you need to be able to measure it, which is why universities across the UK are now adopting a pro-active approach, implementing software systems to allow a better understanding of how energy is used on site.”
digitalenergy has implemented energy management systems into universities and academic establishments across the UK. Among them is Keele University, which ranked #1 in the first published Carbon Reduction Commitment league table.
Home to approximately 1650 staff and 10,000 students, Keele’s campus buildings range from the original Keele Hall dating back to 1851 to its ultra-modern day nursery opened in 2013 which boasts a variety of sustainable features including a solar roof.
For Keele to deliver targets set by HEFCE for the sector, it has been essential to ensure existing building stock is continually improved while new construction is beyond current regulations in terms of efficiency.
However, while Keele has been able to effectively manage its physical assets through investment, operational reduction has been more challenging, especially when its staff and students are demanding more facilities, longer opening hours and research demands more technology.
Richard Hipkiss explains: “When Keele engaged digitalenergy the key objectives were support in managing compliance and stakeholder engagement. The two objectives soon became one when the full implications of the Carbon Reduction Commitment were understood. It was clear that energy had to be part of the integrated process of running the university.”
digitalenergy implemented an energy management system for Keele which covered all variables affecting energy performance which could be monitored and influenced by the university. It covered areas as diverse as energy policy, monitoring, measuring, operational aspects and auditing - all delivered within a framework developed by digitalenergy.
Increased awareness of energy reduction programmes across campus has driven serious behavioural change. Reduced risk from compliance and enhanced reputation through external certification have also been key benefits from taking a long-term approach to energy management.
Keele became one of the first universities in the UK to have its energy management system certified to the prestigious quality standard of ISO50001:2011, but how important is a university’s commitment to sustainability and its impact on the environment to prospective students?
Martyn Wilde, Energy Manager at Keele believes it does wield some influence commenting: “As well as helping to manage energy better, focusing on this area also leads to environmental benefits, such as the reduction of carbon emissions, something which prospective students factor into their choice of where to study.”
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