University Energy Use

2019 Carbon Saving Target Achieved Two Years Early

The production of energy from non-renewable sources produces carbon dioxide which contributes to climate change. With approximately 1,000 staff and upwards of 10,000 students, Staffordshire University is a major consumer of energy and subsequently has a significant role to play in managing carbon emissions.  The University is committed to reducing emissions and therefore pressing on with a Carbon Management Programme.

Our targets aimed for a reduction in CO2 emissions of 26% by end of 2014 , which we missed by 2%, and 48% by end of 2019, based on a comparison year of 2008.  By October 2017, our carbon emissions had been reduced to 47.2%, therefore achieving our target two years ahead of schedule.

Each kWh of energy has a carbon emission associated with it.  For natural gas, it is 0.184kgCO2/kWh, whilst for electricity it is 0.349kgCO2/kWh (BEIS, August 2017).  The higher value reflects the greater losses associated with the generation.  Therefore, anything that can be done to reduce electricity consumption has much greater effect on reduction of CO2 emissions than the reduced consumption of gas (not that we must ignore unnecessary use of gas).  The cost of electricity is about 5 times the cost of gas and so there is a further incentive to prioritise electric consumption reduction.  The more we can do to reduce electricity or generate ourselves (via combined heat and power generators, and solar power), the better.

The CMP progress is shown in the graph below:

It can be seen that the period from December 2010 to May 2012 saw our most rapid reduction in CO2 emissions.  Over this period, approximately £1,000,000 was spent on energy saving projects.  These projects are summarised as follows:

  • Transformer replacement to high efficiency, variable voltage type.  These achieved our greatest saving - 5% of all emissions.

  • Upgrade of lighting in Leek Road Halls (Aynsley; Royal Doulton, etc.).  This action saw a change in lighting type and automated controls, relying on motion and daylight detection.

  • Building Management System improvements.  These enabled the University to control heating patterns much more closely, set appropriate schedules and tailor heating periods to suit each building, thus avoiding overheating.

  • PC Power Management.  This project enabled the large quantity of University computers to turn off after a fixed period of time.

  • Variable speed drive.  This technology can enable fan motors to save around 40% of running costs by modifying ventilation air flow to suite actual conditions.

  • Loft and cavity wall insulation.

  • Solar PV on roof of Clarice Cliff Court.

  • Conversion of Wedgwood hall of residence heating from electric storage to central heating.  The carbon footprint associated with natural gas is much lower than with electricity at present, and there is a similar disparity in unit cost of the two utilities.

The effect of savings on electricity consumption can be seen in the graph below:

 It can be seen that there has been a steady reduction in electricity consumption since the base year of 2008, with a few fluctuations, which can be accounted for by electric heating variations according to weather severity, or otherwise.

Gas consumption and associated CO2 emissions levels are less marked in reduction.  This is because the bulk of gas consumption is for space heating and is much more weather dependent than electricity.  However, there has been an overall improvement owing to better heating control through our new building management system.

Note that gas consumption in the Science & Technology Building has risen.  However, the consumption of electricity has fallen in the same building.  The reason for this is that the Science & Technology Building has a combined heat and power engine that makes electricity as well as space heating.  Therefore, grid electricity use has fallen.


Simple Energy Saving Measures

The table below shows normal term time baseloads of electrical consumption.  The baseload is the minimum amount of energy consumed, even at midnight.

BuildingPower (kW)Emissions (tCO2)Cost
Clarice Cliff Court8092£20,440
Royal Doulton5665£14,300

Anything that can be done to reduce the baseload reduces the cost associated with it and CO2 emissions.

A recent energy audit found the following common areas of wastage:

  1. Monitors left on - these do not necessarily turn off when the computer is shut down.

  2. Shared use computers not shut down.

  3. Portable electrical heaters left turned on for the weekend.

  4. Chargers - these may not be connected to a mobile device, but whilst they are connected, they still use energy.

  5. Lights in common areas - when you leave the lecture theatre, please turn off the lights.