17 February 2017

Successful Carbon-Reduction Projects Announced

Four new projects aimed at cutting the University of Oxford's carbon emissions were given the green light at a Carbon Innovation Programme (CIP) event last week.

The CIP aims to draw on the intelligence and expertise of the University's staff and students to find new ways to reduce its environmental impact. The selected projects were announced at the Saïd Business School after being successfully pitched, Dragons' Den-style, to a group of energy experts.

‘These initiatives connect us with the kind of new thinking we need if we're to meet the University's target of cutting carbon emissions by a third by 2020, compared to 2005 levels,' said Tom Heel, the University's Deputy Head of Environmental Sustainability. 'I'm delighted to support them and look forward to seeing the benefits they’ll bring.'

Among the projects cleared to proceed is HeatSync, which aims to end wasted energy from heating and cooling meeting rooms when they aren't being used. An integrated building management and room booking system will control heating and cooling systems so they only come on when the room is booked, and then turn off again when sensors show it's no longer in use. The system will initially be created and tested in the Dyson-Perrins building on South Parks Road, home to the Environmental Change Institute and School of Geography and the Environment; its creators reckon it could slash energy costs by 40% and pay for itself within two years.

Another project plans to replace the diesel van that drives books between the Bodleian Library and its book storage facility in Swindon with an electric model, saving 14 tonnes of carbon a year and improving air quality and local people's health. Ultimately the van - one of Oxford's hardest-working vehicles, clocking up 31,000 miles a year - will be powered by the solar panels at the book store.

Yet another involves installing a biomass boiler to heat the buildings at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit in Tubney, west of Oxford. The Unit isn't connected to the mains gas, so at present it burns thousands of litres of oil and releases more than 60 tonnes of carbon a year. By switching to renewable wood pellets, the buildings will save several thousand pounds annually.

The last project will try to change the behaviour of people around the University by offering them training in the fundamentals of sustainability, providing insights into how they can reduce their environmental footprints. There will be a short introductory lecture, followed by a tour of the Chemistry Research Laboratory to raise awareness of the steps its staff have taken to improve its environmental performance.

Carbon Innovation Programme (CIP)