Environmental Fund – Success Story!

In March 2017, the Old Whiteknights House Green team were the successful recipients of money from an environmental fund, set up to support staff and students to undertake green projects important to them.

Their project looked to encourage staff and students to get involved with a small kitchen garden they proposed to plant in the grounds of their building. The benefits of this were two-fold, to engage people with a very tangible environmental project near to their place of study/work but also to increase well-being with gardening a proven way to improve people’s level of happiness.

Over the last month, during the fantastic weather we’ve been having, Helen and Nicky have been out purchasing plants and getting them planted outside the building. All the plants that have been chosen are ones that can be used in the kitchen, another way to engage and interest people. Since planting, they’ve both been engaging mint tea from their very own kitchen garden!

If you are interested in getting involved with environmental issues on campus do send us an email at sustainability@reading.ac.uk



How did we achieve our 35% carbon reduction target?

We are delighted to announce that the University has cut its carbon emissions by 35%!!!

This has produced a saving of £17 million over a five year period and means we have cut our annual carbon emissions from 44,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2008/09 to just over 28,500 tonnes per year now. The total carbon saved over the five year period is 63,000 tonnes, which equates to just over two years’ worth of the University’s current carbon emissions.

This achievement puts the University among the top institutions in the country for reducing its carbon emissions. It demonstrates the University’s commitment to delivering against its environmental commitments and makes Reading a leader in the sector for action on climate change.

The big question is, how have we done it? Since 2010, the University has been working hard to deliver on this commitment. Over £4 million has been invested into projects across the University to improve the efficiency of our buildings and operations. The infographic below gives a breakdown of where the reductions have come from and demonstrates how broad the programme has been.

Looking back over the last 5 years, we’ve identified the following 8 points as key to achieving the 35% reduction…

  1. Consistently committed senior leadership
  2. Increasing localised as well as centralised action
  3. Regular progress reporting, including on carbon performance, financial investments and associated returns
  4. An evolving programme with regular annual reviews rather than a static list of projects
  5. Close monitoring of and planning for key estate and business strategy changes to anticipate impacts on the programme
  6. A combination of internal and external funding streams; with 40% coming from external sources
  7. A strong energy management system, certified to ISO50001
  8. A committed, enthusiastic and persistent team of dedicated staff

If you have any questions please do get in contact as we would be delighted to discuss the 35% reduction with you. We also know we have a lot more to do however and we always welcome suggestions on how we can improve our energy performance – do let us know if you have a suggestion. You can contact us by emailing sustainability@reading.ac.uk

Green Festival 2016 – A look back…

Last week the University celebrated all things sustainable with its first Green Festival. Running from Wednesday 16 – Saturday 19 November there were a number of events including tours of the University’s state of the art energy centre, a careers event for students to explore environmental jobs and the ever popular Blackout event.

We are delighted to say that many of the events were over-subscribed, demonstrating the passion and enthusiasm staff and students have at the University for green issues. During the week over 50 staff and students visited joined one of the Energy Centre or Carrington building tours and 60 students listened to professionals from companies such as AECOM, Thames Water and Barratt Homes explain what it’s like to work in the sector.

The week finished with the Blackout where over 90 staff and students came together tB17165 Green Festival Facebook banner JM v1o audit buildings across Whiteknights and London Rd to see what has been left on, switching off anything it was safe to do so. They found over 400 monitors or computers and nearly 200 lights that had been left on and with many of them switched off, the live energy data showed that energy consumption on the night was below a normal Friday evening. The enthusiasm in the room was fantastic and one student emailed after the event to say it was the first time they saw how much energy could be saved if people switched off and they loved being a part of it. Some of the social media highlights from the night can be seen here.

Thank you to all the staff and students that participated in the week, especially those staff that lead teams on Friday evening. To keep the good work going, we were pleased to announce the launch of an Environmental Fund which staff and students can bid into to deliver projects they care about. More details will follow over the next couple of weeks but if you are interested or have an idea for a project you would like to deliver please email sustainability@reading.ac.uk

University wins national Green Gown Award

The University is proud to have been announced as the winner in the ‘Facilities and Services’ category of the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) 2016 Green Gown Awards last week.

The annual EAUC Green Gown Awards are a celebration of sustainability achievements across the higher education sector, and the University’s energy efficiency improvements to its science labs was picked as the overall winner in the Facilities and Services category – http://www.greengownawards.org/2016-winners1

Group - award official EAUCThe judges saw Reading’s entry as “…an exemplar model of engagement and collaboration with senior academic leaders which has led to a significant impact on energy savings and carbon reduction measures.  Strong leadership for this project aligns closely with the theme of ‘Securing and Sustaining Societies’ in the University’s overarching strategy to 2026.”

This follows hot on the heals of another national award – winning in the ‘Stars of the Future’ category of the Love Energy Savings’ awards – https://www.loveenergysavings.com/the-love-energy-awards/

The University’s £1.025 million investment in upgrading the ventilation to its science lab fume cupboards is saving over £300,000 and over 1,000 tonnes CO2 per year.

The programme has involved:
• Upgrading the ventilation control systems
• Replacing extract fans with higher efficiency equivalents
• Providing more efficient ventilation to a number of chemical storage cupboards
• Removal of some redundant fume cupboards
• Re-calibrating the run speeds of fume cupboard ventilation across campus

More details on the University’s Sustainability Services are available at:

Web: www.reading.ac.uk/sustainabilityservices

Twitter: @UniRdg_Sust

Facebook: unirdgsust

Email: sustainability@reading.ac.uk

Interning with Sustainability Services

Over the summer, we hired two interns to help develop a platform to display our new and improved energy data. It is important for us to engage with staff & students, to inform them about their consumption as they are both primary users. As a result of 10 weeks of designing, editing and planning, we are proud to be launching our new sustainabilityoncampus.co.uk very soon.

About the interns (name, course, career aspirations)

Abi: 1st year student reading Geography (Human & Physical); hoping to work in the environmental sector or continue in further studies.

Adam: recent graduate; Applied Statistics, wanting to become an Analyst.

What your role involved?

Abi: As a Junior Energy Officer, I worked with the Junior Energy Analyst to research and produce a data-driven website to display our energy data. My role involved co-designing, branding and communication. Also, producing the supporting content for the data to provide information surrounding the data. Other works include video-editing Green Gown’s submission task, website auditing and part analysis of business travel data.

Adam: As a Junior Analyst, I developed and co-designed the data-website. The work consisted of data manipulation, content-editor and completing analytical tasks as a result of improved Automated Meter Reading. Focal points included the Energy on Campus map display and using HTML coding to aesthetically present data. Other works include analytic data tasks in electricity, heat and water.

What have you gained from this experience?

Abi: Skills I have developed from this opportunity include communicating with appropriate people to utilise the services provided by the University to ensure we are both engaging to staff and students; overcoming and finding appropriate solutions around limitations to ensure all is under University guidelines. Further, it was interesting to approach energy & heat on a local scale having almost, always learnt about global/ national issues. It forms a more apparent microcosm of wider issues.

Adam: I have been able to find and present analytics best suited to layman audience including simplifying jargon and providing explanations for appropriate trends and patterns. Also, dual working- being able to work with another to ensure the website decisions satisfies both and compromising on conflicting issues. To best suit Systems-link (data software), I learnt HTML coding when embedding it to our site.

What was it like working for Sustainability Services?

Abi: As a first year student, my experience in the field of energy & sustainability is fairly limited. This was a great opportunity for me to use my knowledge from Geography as a baseline to learn much more from experts who have been reading, analysing all branches of energy, waste and travel. It is a welcoming and friendly environment where we were integrated into the team swiftly. It is also very encouraging to be working in a team where everyone is passionate about sustainability.

Adam: It’s a friendly, relaxed and calm working environment. It is easy to interact with everyone across the team, despite the project focusing on energy. There is also the ethical satisfaction, in knowing the analytical work I completed is to reduce overall carbon emission and help not only the University of Reading but our surrounding environment.

Would you recommend this to others?

Abi: I would highly recommend this others- regardless of year of study. It is a great way to develop skills in various fields- coding, communications, marketing & learning all things sustainability whilst working with a friendly team. It will also provide great links and contact across the University when communicating and makes you more aware of services provided across University campuses.

Adam: Yes. Initially having thought it was purely aimed at second and third year students- it is suitable for recent graduates also. It is a perfect opportunity for graduates who are less aware of career plans. To be working in a familiar environment means you are able to focus more on the work, making the experience even more worthwhile.

“Thank you for giving us the opportunity and making this a great experience”

Best wishes, your legendary interns.

Extracting carbon savings from our science labs

The University’s programme of energy efficiency improvements to its fume cupboards has been recognised by 3 national sustainability awards:

stickerFollowing a successful £250,000 pilot scheme in 2014, the University carried out a complete review of all its 252 fume cupboard facilities.  A further £768,000 has been invested during 2015/16, partly funded by a 0% loan from the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE)’s Revolving Green Fund.

The programme has involved:

  • Upgrading constant air volume (CAV) fume cupboard ventilation to variable air volume (VAV) ventilation; resulting in significant energy savings whenever the fume cupboard sashes are closed
  • Replacing 98 extract fans with higher efficiency equivalents, which on average use 32% less energy
  • Providing new ventilation to 49 chemical storage cupboards, meaning their associated fume cupboards can be switched off when not in use
  • Removal and making good of 2 redundant fume cupboards
  • Re-calibrating the face velocities of cupboards across campus
Extract fans and stacks
New extract fans & exhausts
fume cupboards
New fume cupboards controls



This has been a significant and at times disruptive programme of work and we are particularly grateful to our Chemistry colleagues for agreeing to a complete decant of their research laboratories during the upgrades.

With the programme now substantially complete, we are monitoring energy consumption closely to ensure that the anticipated £315,641 and 1,037 tCO2 total annual savings are delivered.

More details on our Sustainability Services are available at:

Web: www.reading.ac.uk/sustainabilityservices

Twitter: @UniRdg_Sust

Facebook: unirdgsust

Email: sustainability@reading.ac.uk

Sustainability Matters – Year in Review

The latest edition of Sustainability Matters is now available to read by clicking here. In it are a few of the projects that have been completed this year including the success of staff across the University in the Green Impact programme, work to improve and optimise the heating in buildings as well as big carbon savings being extracted from fume cupboard improvements.

If you have a story you would like featured in Sustainability Matters or would like some hard copies for distribution around your department please do drop us an email at sustainability@reading.ac.uk

On campus this month: creating better places to study and work

We had an amazing Green Week and we hope you did too.

Work to reduce the University’s carbon emissions doesn’t stop there. Over the next few weeks, we will be making improvements to how some of our buildings are heated. Many of you have spoken to our team about this issue; we have listened to what you said and we are taking action as a direct result.

Getting our timing right

We are adjusting the times that the heating comes on and off in our buildings, so that we’re heating space when buildings are occupied. This work will happen behind the scenes, so you won’t see it – you might feel the improvement though, as buildings stay warm when you need them. We’re investing in making changes in fifteen buildings on Whiteknights Campus over the next few weeks to improve comfort and to cut our carbon emissions.

Getting in the zone

As well as looking at the timer settings for our buildings, we’ll be looking at where heating comes on. Different parts of buildings are often occupied at different times, so it’s wasteful to be heating the whole space when we don’t need to.

Taking control

Some of our older heating systems are set up with just a few sensors and thermostats in a building. If you have a sensor in your office or lecture theatre, the heating will be working to provide you with the right temperature. If you’re at the other end of the building to a sensor, it may be that your heating is being dictated by the temperature in a completely different area.

We’ll be visiting a number of buildings to install additional sensors to give us better control of the heating in different spaces. During February and March, you’ll see our teams in:

  • Agriculture
  • Harborne
  • Harry Pitt
  • ICMA and the ICMA Extension
  • JJ Thomson
  • Knight
  • Meteorology and the Psychology / Meteorology Link
  • Philip Lyle
  • Russell
  • Systems Engineering

Come and say hello!

Play your part!

There are some things that you can do to help make sure offices, classrooms, lecture theatres, labs and other spaces are as comfortable as possible:

  • Let us know if you are too hot or too cold – we can’t fix problems if we don’t know about them! Please email sustainability@reading.ac.uk or call the Maintenance Helpdesk on 0118 378 7000 if your building is persistently uncomfortable.
  • Don’t use your own heater – using an electric heater in your office can make the temperature sensors think the building is warm enough, so the main heating system switches off for a while. You might be nice and cosy, but other people will be shivering…
  • Close windows when you’re done – fresh air is great, particularly after a heavy lecture, but if you’re using a room before lunch or at the end of the day, please close windows once you’re done to keep the heat in.

Thanks for reading, and for playing your part in helping us create better places to work and learn.

26% carbon reduction delivers £10m savings for University

With a year to go for the delivery of our initial 35% carbon reduction target, we’re pleased to report that by July 2015, the University had achieved a 26% reduction against its 2008/09, saving £9.9 million for the University, together with a further £2.2 million for and by our partner organisations.

In carbon terms, this has saved the equivalent of 9,767 household’s annual carbon emissions and as the 2015/16 term commences, we are confident of our potential to deliver that 35% cut in emissions by July 2016.

Carbon Progress Graph 2014-15

In 2014/15, we completed another £850,000 of energy efficiency investments, including vastly improved energy metering for all our main campus buildings.

The first phase of our district heating project was also completed, with the second phase shortly due to come online, which will provide heat to 16 campus buildings as well as generating electricity through a combined heat & power (CHP) engine.  We’re also investing £1 million in fume cupboard efficiency upgrades and our Carbon Countdown behaviour change campaign promises to be our biggest yet.

We’ll be monitoring and reporting our progress closely throughout the year.  Our visual tracker in the Sustainability office keeps our minds focused on this goal:

Carbon Tracker

Our full Carbon Management progress report provides further detail on the work completed over the last year.