Carbon and energy saving at the Bodleian book store

The facility now preserves the unique Bodleian collections in a sympathetic environment by using significantly less energy than when it first opened – a proud achievement

Boyd Roger, Book Storage Facility Manager

After its new Swindon book storage facility opened in 2010, the Bodleian Libraries team sought the support of Estates Services to ensure the building operated efficiently, with the lowest possible energy bills and carbon emissions.

After reviewing the building and its internal environment, the team identified a project to optimise the Building Management System (BMS) and decided to enhance this project further by installing 50kW photovoltaic solar panels (PVs).  

Library staff worked closely alongside Building Services engineers and energy and carbon-reduction specialists from the Environmental Sustainability team to deliver the project.

The University’s ambitious target of cutting carbon emissions by 33% of 2005 carbon emissions by 2021 is supported by a substantial carbon management fund, managed by the Environmental Sustainability team. The team identified this project as an ideal candidate for the fund’s support.

Saving energy, safeguarding books

The teams’ challenge was to optimise the BMS in a way that reduced costs and carbon emissions, while maintaining tight control of environmental conditions over the 17-acre site, which holds some 12 million books.

The British Standard for the storage of archival documents specifies maintaining temperatures between 17.5oC and 18.5oC and relative humidity between 45% and 55%. The BMS enables the Building Operation Management team to control the building’s internal temperature and humidity more efficiently, thereby reducing energy consumption. 

Better building management

The review of the BMS suggested a number of possible improvements. These included changing the air in the facility less often, ensuring the humidifiers and pumps were used more efficiently, decreasing the demand on the building’s chillers and limiting the speed of the fans. All these steps save energy and reduce carbon emissions without putting the valuable books at any risk.

To guarantee this, bacteria levels in the book storage facility are monitored periodically. So far the air quality has given no cause for concern.

To help cut carbon emissions further, a ground-mounted 50kWp PV system was installed outside the book storage facility. When operating under optimum conditions, it supplies all of the building’s electrical demand for free and with no carbon emissions.

A leaner, greener book store

The BMS project has reduced annual carbon emissions by 410 tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to making five million cups of tea – and saved around £77,000 a year in energy bills.

The PV system generates 55,000 kWh of power a year, saving a further 27 tonnes of CO2 per year. On good days, the building even exports power to the national grid.

Lucinda Lay, Carbon Reduction Project Manager in the Environmental Sustainability team, commented: ‘This project has led to a five-year programme of BMS optimisation across more than 30 different buildings that will make a significant contribution to the University’s ambitious carbon reduction target’.

Boyd Rodger, manager at the Book Storage Facility during improvements, praised the ‘excellent consultation between Estates Services’ Environmental Sustainability and Building Services teams, and the Conservation and Collection Care team and operational managers within the Bodleian Library.’

He added: ‘The facility now preserves the unique Bodleian collections in a sympathetic environment by using significantly less energy than when it first opened – a proud achievement.’