University placed in top 3 for carbon reduction!

The University of Reading has been placed 3rd in a league table of how successfully English universities are reducing their carbon emissions.

The figures, which have been collated by independent consultants and based on HESA and Hefce data, show that between 2005 and 2013 we reduced our total emissions by 45%.

The University aspires to be a leader in sustainability through its teaching, research and operational activities and this result helps confirm we are meeting this challenge. As part of this commitment, the University has created a dedicated Sustainability Team which manages energy, waste and sustainable travel across its three campuses. The team also leads on the implementation of the Carbon Management Plan which was signed off in 2011 by the Vice-Chancellor and sets out an ambitious strategy for carbon reduction.  Sustainability is now embedded into the majority of strategic decisions across the University and has become a part of everyday life for staff and students alike.

We are constantly identifying ways to reduce our carbon footprint and in the last year alone we have delivered projects which include;

  • Investing £250,000 to redesign and upgrade 44 fume cupboards which will result in annual savings of 343 tonnes CO2 and £88,000.
  • The installation of building level metering across the University so we can better understand our consumption patterns and help us target future work.
  • Lighting upgrades including in the URS building and 3 of the SAGES (School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science) buildings which use more efficient fittings but also include sensors which dim the lights when there is sufficient daylight

Over the next 15 months, we will be working hard to meet our own carbon reduction target of 35% which covers the period 2008/09 to 2015/16. This work includes further investment in the remaining fume cupboards, energy efficiency improvements in RUSU to lighting and cellar refrigeration and the installation of solar panels across the estate.

In addition to this, the University has constructed a new energy centre which uses Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology. This will provide 12-15% of Whiteknights electricity and heat for 16 of our key buildings. It is expected that once fully commissioned, it will reduce our carbon emissions by 10% and save £250,000 in annual utility costs.

We are also asking people across the University to help us meet this target by turning off any unnecessary electrical equipment and also making suggestions of ways we could save energy. We recognise there are opportunities across the estate for improvements whether this is the installation of draught proofing or fixing broken heating controls.

University achieves international Energy Management standard!

The University has become one of just a handful of universities in the UK to achieve certification to the international ISO50001 Energy Management standard.

The standard sets strict guidelines for how energy consumption is managed throughout the University’s operations; providing a framework to ensure energy is effectively managed for the long term. The certification covers Whiteknights, London Road and Greenlands campuses.

A key part of achieving this certification has been an estate-wide review of energy consumption and energy saving opportunities, to develop a prioritised programme of work to reduce the University’s energy use and carbon emissions. This is helping ensure the University’s ambitious plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 35% by July 2016 remains achievable, and that the University continues to build on the 23% reduction in its carbon footprint achieved to date.

A major focus for energy efficiency investment this year is in the University’s science buildings. Recently completed investment grade surveys have highlighted some good opportunities for investing on short payback energy efficiency improvements, while contractors have now been appointed for the planned £1 million efficiency overhaul to the University’s fume cupboards.

Meanwhile, the new district heating system is providing efficient heat to 9 buildings on the Whiteknights campus, with a further 7 buildings due to be added this summer. In combination, this project is anticipated to cut a further 1,200 tCO2 from the University’s carbon footprint annually and cut annual energy bills by £250,000.

To get involved or make suggestions regarding carbon management or general environmental issues at the University, please email

Carbon reduction updates – science buildings, RUSU, solar panels

We have a whole range of carbon reduction initiatives currently underway across the University.  Here’s a flavour of what’s we’re working on:

Science building energy efficiency surveys

Last year’s estate-wide Energy Review highlighted just how energy-hungry our science buildings are, and over the last couple of months, consultants have been carrying out investment-grade audits of the Chemistry, Food Biosciences and Hopkins building.  A number of low-cost, high energy saving opportunities for improvement have been identified, which we implement by July, including:

  • Improved control to heating in all 3 buildings, to make better use of the existing capabilities of the building management system (BMS)
  • Efficiency improvements to the compressed air systems used in some laboratories
  • Replacing worn chiller insulation

Potential opportunities to upgrade the lighting throughout the Chemistry and Food Biosciences buildings are also being considered.

Collectively, this work is anticipated to save 143 tCO2 and £39,000 annually.

Fume cupboard efficiency improvements

Staying with science buildings, contractors have been appointed to rollout energy efficiency improvements to fume cupboards right across campus.  This builds on 2014’s award winning pilot project and will see £1 million invested by December 2016 in an energy efficiency overhaul of the fume cupboards; with a £500,000 interest-free loan from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) matched-funded by the University.

Once complete, annual savings of £260,000 and 750 tCO2 are anticipated.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels

We are progressing plans to install up to 1 MW of solar PV panels across the University’s estate, which will save 490 tCO2 each year.  We are planning to establish a dedicated community benefit organisation, which will own and maintain the panels, selling the generated electricity to the University and at the same time, generating surplus funds which will be used to support a range of sustainability initiatives in the local area.

Detailed survey work is well underway, and more details on the scheme, including how you may invest in it and the benefits of doing so, will follow in the coming weeks.

RUSU energy efficiency improvements

Two projects in the Reading University Students’ Union building are expected to save a total of £14,000 and 75 tCO2 each year.  The first project will see the corridor lighting and Mojo’s bar lighting upgraded, whilst the second will re-design the Mojo’s cellar, so that only half the space needs to be chilled.

In addition, as part of the current Café Mondial extension project, consequential improvements required for planning permission will see efficient double-glazed windows installed in Mojo’s.

Further information

 As always, further information is available at cleanandgreen, or email us directly at or on twitter UniRdg_Sust