Saving Carbon and Energy
As a university, we save around £1 million per year through our combined heat and power (CHP) engines. This is the equivalent of around 5,000 tonnes of carbon.
Our total energy cost is around £2.6 million per year: our proactive approach over the past 25 years has meant that this figure is comparatively low due to various interventions (energy costs are now £2 million less than in 2014/15).
The Campus Development Programme is a key part of our NetZero UEA strategy by improving the energy efficiency of the original 1960s-built Lasdun Wall and reducing the footprint of the campus.
We have invested around £5million to improve energy efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint between 2015 and 2020. Since July 2018, £2 million has been invested in energy efficiency measures. Phase 1 of these measures has reduced our energy use by 7% and Phase 2 has offset the energy use of the New Science Building.
We continue to invest in energy saving initiatives and renewable technologies. For example, all new buildings since 2013 have solar PV to produce electricity and our CHP engines, which were originally installed in 1998, were upgraded in 2017/18 (saving us around £800,000 per year).
Although we are not able to quantify maintenance savings resulting from our Energy and Carbon Reduction Programme, by installing new equipment we expect that less maintenance will be required. For example, LED lights can have a lifespan of up to 20 years compared to fluorescent tubes which require a much more intense maintenance regime.
As well as the infrastructure, we are investing in our personnel to reduce negative environmental impacts and capitalise on internal expertise. We are working to reduce our carbon intensity despite a growing estate.
The electricity produced by our Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engines is currently cleaner than electricity imported from the National Grid. Around 80% of energy consumed on site is produced by our CHPs. Another benefit of having CHP engines is in their ability to harness the waste heat produced from generating electricity to provide heating to the majority of our buildings, through our district heating system of pipes.
Our Executive Team discussed and approved Estates’ proposed Energy and Carbon Reduction Programme (ECRP) for 2015–2020 on 23 November, 2015.
The Energy and Utilities Manager has responsibility for overseeing carbon performance.
Energy and Carbon Reduction Programme (ECRP)
The ECRP contains two reduction targets, which are monitored by the Energy and Carbon Reduction Implementation Team alongside related targets and reported to the Sustainability Board:
- EMP60: Reduce energy consumption by 25% against a 2013/14 baseline – target date July 2020.
- EMP17: Reduce kgCO2e from direct emissions (Scope 1 & 2) by 35% (absolute emissions) over 1990 levels – target date July 2020.
Note: The target date for EMP17 has been extended to July 2021 (approved at the October 2017 Sustainability Board).
Alongside the 2020 target of reducing energy consumption by 25%, the delivery of more solar PV panels on campus and the decarbonisation of the electricity grid will support a reduction of our carbon footprint.
We declared a joint climate and biodiversity emergency on World Environment Day, 5 June 2019. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research calculated UEA’s remaining carbon budget at 147ktCO2 for 2015-2050 using the ‘Town and Gown’ methodology. This is an ‘energy-only’ carbon budget, including emissions from the UEA campus, student and staff housing. It recommends a 13% annual reduction in emissions from 2020 onwards.
Following the Tyndall Centre report, we have started developing our NetZero UEA carbon management plan to replace the ECRP. Between June and November 2020, we held several NetZero participatory expert workshops including a Policy Afternoon with senior staff which has demonstrated commitment and enthusiasm to establish action plans. Following discussion and approval at the February 2021 Executive Team Strategy Day, the Vice-Chancellor announced our net zero ambitions on 11 February 2021.
UEA’s Net Zero ambition is to achieve:
- Over 80% net zero campus emissions (Scopes 1 & 2) by 2030 against a 2015 baseline
- To be 100% net zero (Scopes 1, 2 & 3) by 2045 or earlier
- To pledge not to rely on offsetting for our carbon emission targets
The baseline is 2015, the year of the Paris Agreement the international treaty on climate change. 2014/2015 was also the year we as a University reached our peak carbon emissions.
We will be prioritising avoiding and reducing greenhouse gas emissions on our own estate rather than paying into offset schemes. If a small amount of offsetting was essential and unavoidable then we would prioritise verifiable long-term local projects.
Targets relating to these ambitions are being developed and will be approved by the end of 2021. Progress is monitored by the Energy and Carbon Reduction Implementation Team who report to the Sustainability Board.
Indirect emissions (Scope 3)
Scope 3 emissions are included within our carbon management. Carbon emissions from waste, water, wastewater and imported electricity are reported in each Annual Environmental Sustainability Report and through our annual HESA EMR return.
We currently have one Scope 3 emissions reduction target:
- EMP78: A 20% reduction on carbon emissions from long-haul and international flights from the 2017/18 baseline – target date July 2023.
EMP78 is based on a 2017/18 baseline of 2,085 tCO2e (Long-haul: 1,091 tCO2e and International: 813 tCO2e). This target was approved by the Sustainability Board in October 2019 and progress is monitored by the Transport Implementation Team.
Based on EMR methodologies, 25% of our 2018/19 Scope 1 and 2 emissions were related to student halls of residence. This does not cover privately rented student accommodation.
How You Can Help
Energy saving in the workplace
If we all carry out the simple actions noted below, we will not only help tackle climate change by reducing our carbon dioxide emissions but also make financial savings. Remember – most of these tips work just as well at home as they do at work, so you can save yourself some money as well.
Working in a large lab or office?
- Only switch on the lights you need, or use desk lamps.
- Switch off equipment when you’re not using it, or install timers to save energy overnight and at the weekends. The Energy Team have monitors you can borrow to measure your energy use and identify some easy wins.
- Send computers to sleep at the end of the day and when left unsupervised: this saves almost as much energy as switching off completely.
- Switch lights off in empty rooms.
- Make the most of natural daylight, especially in spring and summer: switch off the lights.
- Don’t leave chargers plugged in when they are not charging, or electrical items on standby when they could be off.
- Is your heating on too high? – you can report it here.
- Print less and print double sided. Can you change your office or local printer's default settings?
- Challenge yourself to boil just the amount of water you need in a kettle.
If you are aware of energy wastage or ways we could save energy, please let us know. We may have funding available to make your idea a reality.
Contact the Sustainability Team via email with any questions.