Friday, 16 September 2011

Carbon Management Plan Update

On Monday the Carbon Management Board met for the first time since the Carbon Management Plan was adopted by the University. The board were meeting to monitor the progress of the implementation of the plan, which sets out how the University is going to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2016 and 40% by 2020 from our 2009/10 baseline.
The Carbon Management Plan
The meeting was chaired by Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Neil Garrod and attended by representatives from Facilities Management, Estates, Finance, Information Library Services, School of Science and Carbon Culture.

Nigel Heugh from the building services team gave the group an update on how the various projects were progressing and the changes in costs and improved estimations in carbon savings. For instance projects including the implementation of variable speed drives and voltage optimisation units had been brought forward to this year because the estimated carbon savings are so good.

Some of the biggest challenges that lie in the carbon management plan are with projects yet to be decided - for instance in making savings in IT and influencing the way staff and students use the campus to be more efficient. With the challenge of influencing behaviour change we have been working with Carbon Culture on developing a strategy to make carbon savings more appealing and interesting to campus users.

Carbon Culture’s most high profile work has been with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the work they have done on displaying the department’s energy use. Their energy usage is displayed in real time on their website allowing you to see the peaks and troughs in usage and see how many kWh are being used, the cost of that energy and the carbon emissions too. We will be working with Carbon Culture to deliver a similar service whereby we will be able to break down the data per building or school – so if you wanted to know how much energy the School of Science is using you would be able to see that on the website.

Screenshot from DECC website displaying the energy usage
Another very exciting project that was discussed is surrounding the fuel that the proposed combined heat and power plant (CHP) at Medway will run on. Traditionally these plants are run on finite resources like natural gas or oil, however Pat Harvey the Head of Bioenergy Research at the University is working on an alternative using glycerine instead. The glycerine which can be supplied by Aquafuel results as a bi-product of bio fuel production but can also be produced by salt water algae. The other exciting factor of using glycerine is that it is a clean product – so safe in nature you could eat it before putting it in the CHP and a major glycerine spill in the ocean would have consequences that would be insignificant comparatively to an oil spill.

A handful of algae
On the subject of clean energy the University is switching from a standard electricity tariff to a 100% renewable tariff with our electricity suppliers for over 90% of the University’s electricity supply. As well as this the University is planning on installing photovoltaic solar panels on the rooves of the student accommodation at Avery Hill this coming autumn. This very exciting news demonstrates how the University is determined to make the switch to cleaner and more sustainable energy use and is determined to be a sector leader in sustainability.

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