Tackling the energy challenge

December 16th, 2022

Heating costs are rising rapidly for everyone. The university is committed to ensuring staff and students have warm spaces to work and study over the winter. However, we need to be sustainable and efficient in how we do this, and we can all play a part in that.

The university’s energy costs are projected to increase from around £18 m in 2021/22, to almost £25m in the current financial year 2022/23. If we continue to see the high market prices, they could be as high as £46m the year after that.

The more the university spends on energy, the less it has available to support its teaching and research. Every £1 saved on energy is £1 we can direct towards our core business and to helping support staff and students.

We have made clear commitments to reducing our overall carbon emissions (find out more in our Carbon Management Plan), but we also want to reduce the amount we spend on gas and electricity.

We must take urgent action to reduce energy consumption in university buildings – not just this winter but beyond, and we need your help to do that.

Short-term steps

The university’s senior leadership team has agreed a focus on:

  • Ensuring we do not overheat spaces in our buildings
  • Turning heating off in spaces that are not in use
  • Providing advice and guidance on how you can make a difference
  • Working with our key energy consumers

Long-term plans

As well as taking urgent steps to reduce our energy consumption this winter, we also need to reduce gas and electricity use over the longer term. The university has previously adopted Science Based Targets for carbon reduction, committing itself to reduce its energy-related carbon emissions to absolute zero by 2050.

Estates & Facilities are already working with high energy users across the university on several vital initiatives, including:

  • Developing a programme of thermal efficiency improvements across the university estate.
  • Reducing our dependency on gas by moving towards renewable heating, for example we have recently installed an air source heat pump system in the DRSV swimming pool.
  • Making more efficient use of our existing spaces.
  • Identifying under-utilised buildings where heating and services could be turned down, or off altogether.

How you can help  

We need your help to meet our target of reducing our energy consumption and associated carbon emissions by 10% this financial year. All staff and students have a responsibility to act sustainably, reduce carbon emissions and help global efforts to minimise the effects of climate change. The best way to do this is to reduce the amount of resources we use.

When it comes to saving energy, please help us by:

  • Switching off lights and electrical appliances fully when not needed, especially overnight and when the university is closed over Christmas. Follow our checklist to switch off your area before the holidays.
  • Avoiding the use of portable electric heating devices – if your space feels cool contact the Estates helpdesk.
  • Keeping doors and windows closed when the heating is on and ensuring windows are closed at the end of the day.
  • Encouraging your department to get involved with the Sustainability Champions network and LEAF within labs.
  • Identifying additional steps that your department or institution could take to reduce its energy use. The Sustainability Team can provide advice on how you can go about this.
  • Reporting any faults in university-managed buildings that are leading to excessive use or waste of energy to the Estates helpdesk.

We will be issuing further advice over the coming months but in the meantime, take a look at what else you can do and how you can save energy at home.

Thank you in advance for your support.

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One Comment

March 22nd, 2023 at 1:11 pm


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