Universities have achieved their best year-on-year reduction in carbon emissions with sector emissions falling by 7% in 2015/16. Almost half of all universities in England have worked with Salix Finance to secure funding for their carbon reduction projects. Salix Finance provides interest-free Government funding to the public sector to improve their energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills.
In the last year, Salix Finance, a not-for-profit, government funded organisation, has worked in partnership with almost half of all higher education institutions (HEIs) in England on energy-efficiency projects contributing to their carbon reduction strategies.
Throughout 2016/17, these partnerships resulted in the completion of projects utilising over £21 million from Salix-managed funding programmes. Along with significant carbon savings, these projects are estimated to save over £4 million annually and £66 million over their lifetime.
The benefits of these reductions are not just environmental; with an annual energy bill of over £350 million, a further 30% cut to emissions beyond what has already been achieved could reduce bills by over £100 million per year. Additionally, typical carbon reduction projects can result in improved working and learning environments, reduced ongoing maintenance costs and improved existing building stock.
Carbon reduction on campus
A range of technologies were utilised in the projects which were completed throughout the year, such as LED lighting, fume cupboard controls, Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS). These sustained efforts in implementing energy-efficiency projects have helped some HEIs meet their targets early; amongst which is the University of Birmingham, who Salix has been working with since 2009. A joint funded Revolving Green Fund established in conjunction with HEFCE, alongside Salix interest-free loans, has helped the University to undertake projects valued at over £4 million. These generate estimated annual savings of over £1 million and 4,200 tonnes of carbon making a significant contribution to the 21% reduction they have made to their carbon footprint.
Mohammed Shamraze, Energy Engineer at the University of Birmingham said; “Most recently we have installed a second CHP unit in our energy centre, in conjunction with the previously installed CHP, to supply heat to the new sports centre and student residences. We enjoy working closely with Salix and are in the process of installing further energy efficiency projects, including replacement lighting and controls, free cooling and laboratory equipment.”
Financing energy-efficiency improvements
Similarly, the University of Reading, which first worked with Salix in 2009, has already exceeded its carbon reduction target. Over £1.4 million of funding from Salix managed programmes has been used for energy-efficiency projects. Most recently, the University used £187,000 of interest-free Salix funding and £418,000 from the Salix/HEFCE joint funded Revolving Green Fund 4 (RGF4) to install ventilation upgrades to fume cupboards in their laboratories. The University has now reduced the carbon emissions of the fume cupboards by over 72% and are seeing significant financial savings of around £160,000 per year, while still retaining the integrity of extraction levels essential for handling hazardous chemicals.
Dan Fernbank, Energy Manager at the University of Reading said; “Our fume cupboard efficiency programme has delivered some of the best savings we have achieved through our ongoing Carbon Management Programme. The support and funding from Salix Finance was invaluable in making this scheme a reality”.
The University of Nottingham is another institution that first worked with Salix in 2009. Utilising a Salix/HEFCE Revolving Green Fund set up in 2009 alongside Salix interest-free loans and funding from RGF4, so far they have invested £2.9 million of funding to enable 75 projects, generating annual savings of approximately £800,000.
Martin Oakes, Carbon Reduction Manager at the University of Nottingham commented “Using the three streams of Salix funding we have been able to invest in energy efficiency technology across our whole campus. We have completed lighting conversion and control projects and upgraded the boiler which services the main campus. At the Medical School we have recently completed the chiller replacement project which alone will save us over £237,000 annually.”
These are just a few examples of how HEIs have pushed forward ambitious energy-efficiency programmes with support of Salix funding programmes, and Salix has recently worked with HEIs to commit a further £15 million to energy-efficiency projects which will complete in the coming year. Applications are still being accepted for projects completing this year and beyond.
Salix Finance is a sponsor of this year’s Brite Green University Carbon Report
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