How can Universities improve their energy performance without significant investment?

Carbon Credentials are once again proud to be headline sponsor of the annual EAUC conference and in this blog series we explore some of the key topics that we’re looking forward to discussing during the conference.

In this blog, we look at how universities can succeed in achieving their carbon targets by using people, process and technology to optimise energy performance on the campus estate.

The Opportunity

For the past 18 months Carbon Credentials has been successfully applying its Collaborative Asset Performance Programme (CAPP) in buildings across the UK. These programmes have demonstrated savings in the region of 10%-20% in already well managed buildings, indicating that there are still plenty of quick-win, low-cost projects to be tackled.

The graphic above shows that by extrapolating across the sector, the savings we’ve achieved from our programmes in 2016 could prevent emissions of 226,000 tonnes of carbon right now. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of five large institutions located close to Lancaster University, where this year’s annual conference is being hosted.

The Collaborative Asset Performance Programme

The CAPP brings together data capture and visualisation, engineering, project management, optimisation of technology and the engagement of people. It ensures that the benefits of reduced consumption, improved comfort levels and lower carbon emissions can be earned quickly by focussing on systems already up and running, and with little capital expense.

It involves the installation of a data acquisition device to access Building Management System and sub-metering data. This data is stored in our data analytics platform, and evaluated by our engineers, data specialists and engagement professionals to identify actions that will optimise your buildings.

For more information and plenty of case studies, please take a look at a recent webinar we did in partnership with the EAUC

Overcoming Barriers Through Data & Engagement

Institutions play a significant role in fostering innovation and are well placed to contribute towards national and international sustainability discussions. This programme offers a way of overcoming many of the challenges we hear time and again, such as financing projects, engaging staff and students and the support from institutional leaders.

Examples of key successes posted by a number of our clients speak for themselves. By using this as evidence to demonstrate to university leaders that significant benefits can be exploited, you can mobilise your institutions too.

Where Next?

Moving beyond energy management, in our next blog entry in the series we explore how can institutions best pursue the indirect Scope 3 management agenda to lead on delivering the Sustainable Development Goals across their supply chains.

The EAUC conference will be hosted this year on 28-30th March 2017 by the University of Lancaster.

Energy Performance 2017

On Wednesday 22nd February Carbon Credentials hosted its latest event to date – ‘Energy Performance 2017’, providing an opportunity for our clients to tackle the question of how they are each addressing the issue of driving and delivering energy performance objectives in 2017.

We were fortunate enough to have over forty representatives from a range of companies and institutions interested in energy performance, including Jones Lang LaSalle, Greater London Authority, Grosvenor, Hermes, AMEC Foster Wheeler, and London Metropolitan University, among others.

In this uncertain policy landscape, Carbon Credentials felt that now was the ideal time to provide a forum for our clients to share best practice and learn from each other. This was an excellent opportunity and an important one considering that the attendees represented at least £313 million of energy spend, of which even a marginal change would have a significant and material impact.

Furthermore, considering the forecasted temperature increases in the UK over the next 20 years, as shown in the graphic below, the environmental importance of improved energy performance is put into perspective.

Side-by-side representations of the UK with forecasted increases in temperatures by 2020 and 2040 receptively from a 1961-1990 baseline assuming a medium emissions scenario.

There were a number of key themes that were discussed and debated throughout the day, both through case-study presentations from a selection of some of our most progressive clients, as well as through roundtable and panel discussions.

An overview of these follows.

A strategy can be both bottom-up and top-down as long as it is pragmatic and engages with stakeholders in the right way

Suki Gilliland is Head of Energy for her company and provided an excellent case-study of how she has undertaken a bottom-up approach to energy performance through a pragmatic energy strategy that sets realistic targets and engagements.

She discussed the important role that ISO 50001 has played in helping her to structure this approach as well as provide ongoing improvement. The combination of company-wide communication with site specific action plans has enabled success.

Information is power and good quality data is critical to enable good decision making

Steve Costin, Head of Engineering at AIG, gave a high energy account of the successes he has achieved through a good programme of data management and targeted performance reporting and analytics.

The information and support that he has been provided by Carbon Credentials has enabled him to focus on action and change rather than on data quality and compliance.

Low-cost quick wins are there for the taking and significant reductions can be achieved by optimising the infrastructure in which you have already invested in

Greg Tytherleigh, Associate Director from Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) provided an exciting account of the outstanding work he has been undertaking across the Hermes Investment Management real estate portfolio to identify low-cost quick wins.

By working with Carbon Credentials through the Collaborative Asset Performance Programme he has been able to achieve significant savings of up to 40% in consistently under-achieving buildings.

Greg Tytherleigh, Associate director from JLL talking through his slides on the benefits of BMS optimisation in selected buildings

Through Carbon Credentials support with performance analytics, BMS optimisation, and collaboration with key individuals, Greg discussed how he has been able to achieve savings that had not been possible before.

There is no over-all quick fix, improving energy performance is a marathon, not a sprint

An overwhelming theme that arose throughout the day was that there is no one answer to the challenge of improving energy performance; it is about incremental and ongoing change which requires patience and persistence.

In particular, one of the roundtables concluded that Science-Based Targets could provide an excellent long-term framework to encourage the longer-term thinking required within an organisation to tackle this problem.

The roundtables were also full of ideas on this topic and numerous examples of how to achieve low-cost quick wins were discussed.

Roundtables discussing a host of different topics on each table


All in all, the Energy Performance workshop was a successful start to our events in 2017, and we look forward to many more in the weeks and months to come!

If you are interested in this recap, please do read our Energy Strategy Top Tips for 2017 ebook. To download a copy of this book, please follow this link.

Our next two upcoming events are an event on the Non-Financial Reporting Directive, on 26th April, and an event specifically for Finance Directors on helping them achieve a 25% IRR through energy performance investments on 3rd May.

Both events are invite only, but if you wish to be invited or are looking for further information details can be found on our events page here, or alternatively, contact us directly here and we will be happy to provide more information and invite you along to the event itself.

Energy Strategy 2017

Innovation in Higher Education Buildings: Worth the Risk?

Universities and colleges are, by their nature, places for innovation. This has in many cases transferred to university estates strategies, with the design and construction of energy efficient buildings being commonplace.

With progress towards the ambitious Higher Education Sector target of a 43% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, slower than initially expected, innovation is becoming increasingly important. But is it worth the risks it brings?

Whilst this innovation carries risk, the rewards of success are high, especially when collaborative knowledge sharing can allow this success to be replicated with lower risk.

The risk innovation can bring is highlighted in a recent report by Innovate UK, which found that:

“Average total carbon emissions were 3.8 times higher than the average design estimate…”

This study analysed data from 50 leading-edge buildings (a large proportion of which were from the Education Sector) in the Building Performance Evaluation Programme to further understand and emphasise the ‘Performance Gap Challenge’.

Key findings of the study were:

  • Unless there is some form of revolutionary change in the UK’s construction and operation of buildings, meeting targets will be extremely unlikely
  • The performance gaps seen are generally due to the discrepancy between designers’ objectives, and the ways in which occupants actually use a building
  • A great amount of detail is needed when using innovative systems
  • Energy use and emissions are higher than expected when buildings do not match the original aspirations of designers
  • There is as yet no consensus about the best approaches for achieving true low-carbon performance

Innovate UK found that almost every completed building had higher carbon emissions than was expected in design, although the range in higher emissions is wide.

For example, Bath Campus Woodland Court was found to have a ratio of actual in-use emissions to design estimate of 1.9, therefore performing almost double the expected level.

The Thomas Paine Study Centre, of the University of East Anglia, was found to have a ratio of 9.9. This finding emphasises the value of both high quality design and ongoing performance measurement.

EAUC Blog Graph

Figure 1: Summary of the Innovate UK findings: Actual CO2 emissions are almost always higher than the Building Emissions Rate (BER) predicts (Carbon Factors: Electric 0.55kgCO2/kWh, Gas 0.194kgCO2/kWh, Oil 0.265kgCO2/kWh, District heating 0.265kgCO2/kWh, Biomass 0.025kgCO2/kWh, from BRUKL). NB: Zero-rated buildings against one hotel and one office project are projects with CO2 data but no BER (Innovate UK 2016)

Innovation for Evolution

Despite the risk that innovation brings, it is worth focusing on the words of Albert Einstein:

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”

“We cannot solve a problem by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

As universities continue to grow, we must continue to innovate with confidence and, importantly, to measure performance, and understand where and why success has or has not been achieved.

Innovative systems can help buildings to perform better – vital if the Higher Education Sector is going to achieve the 43% reduction target by 2020.

A university is a community (in some cases almost a small town) and therefore plays an important role in creating healthier, happier cities.

This is extremely pertinent given that the theme for this year’s EAUC Annual Conference is ‘Learning and Legacy: The Role of Education in Creating Healthier, Happier Cities.’

The 2016 EAUC annual conference, for which Carbon Credentials is the Headline Sponsor, will be at the University of the West of England, in Bristol, on 25-26 May.


How well is your Carbon Management Plan performing? We want to know!

We would be delighted if you could complete our Carbon Management Plan (CMP) Survey prior to the conference to assess your CMP.

For all participants, there is also the chance to win a free half-day optimised CMP workshop for your university!

Our team of carbon and sustainability experts will be available throughout the conference to discuss your results with you.

We will be presenting the anonymised data at the conference in order to further advance the existing dialogue surrounding optimised Carbon Management Plans, highlighting why innovation is so instrumental going forwards.

To join us at the EAUC Annual Conference, please book your place at the here.

For more information about our Assured Performance services, contact us here or click the button below.


Kingston Hospital Sustainability Week: Building Awareness & Communicating Success

“It was good to meet lots of different people and talk about the progress being made with sustainability at Kingston Hospital. There is a genuine interest among the staff about the issues, which encourages us to ‘sustain’ our efforts.” Chris Sims, Estates Maintenance Manager at Kingston Hospital

Carbon Credentials has been working with Kingston Hospital since 2014 to raise awareness of their efforts to improve the Trust’s environmental sustainability, and to encourage behaviour change that will have a lasting impact on energy performance.

As part of the Sustainability Awareness Programme at Kingston Hospital, and to link in with the NHS Sustainability Day on 24th March 2016, Carbon Credentials worked collaboratively with the Trust to plan a week of activities to engage staff on sustainability and communicate this across the Trust.


Figure 1: Photo displaying the sustainability stand and team on NHS Sustainability Day on 24th March 2016

This was an extremely successful campaign and resulted in 20 new Green Champions requesting to join the programme. Green Champions are our eyes and ears around the Trust, encouraging their peers to be responsible by turning off equipment not in use, and recycling where possible. They are instrumental in raising awareness of the sustainability programme.

Building Awareness & Understanding

Staff were given the opportunity to discuss their challenges and issues with our consultants, and to gain information from a number of Kingston Hospital’s suppliers who attended the event, including Veolia, ISS and Sharpsmart, the world’s most responsible sharps management system. This provided a great insight into how Kingston Hospital is dedicated to managing their waste and energy consumption in the most sustainable way.

As part of the campaign, staff were invited to enter a Sustainability Initiative Competition to generate the best idea on how to better their environment at Kingston Hospital, and reduce their environmental impact. Carbon Credentials also developed a Sustainability Quiz that was distributed to all staff across the Trust. Over 80 quizzes were completed by staff at the Hospital, and ideas and initiatives from the competition will feed into the wider Sustainability Awareness Programme.

Kingston Sustainability Day Infographic

Figure 2: A poster used to communicate and raise awareness of the Big Easter Switch-Off

Successful Communications

Carbon Credentials developed the Sustainability Week programme for Kingston Hospital, and provided a suite of communications material to help drive awareness over the week.

The key to successful communications and engagement for the Sustainability Week was providing engaging communications material that staff could relate to. During Sustainability Week screen banners, such as in Figure 2, were used to remind staff to switch off all non-essential equipment before they left for Easter.

Top Tips for Running a Successful Sustainability Day

  • Key facts and information to demonstrate successes
  • Detailed communications plan, highlighting when and who to target key messages to
  • Identify most effective form of communications
  • Get some well-known faces involved
  • Get backing and an endorsement from senior management
  • Ensure you have the right people with the right knowledge to answer questions
  • Invite suppliers to display a stand and provide handouts
  • Run initiatives and competitions with prizes
  • Be enthusiastic!Kingston Sustainability Day Banner

Figure 3: Infographic displayed at Kingston Hospital to communicate the sustainability achievements made in 2015

To understand how you can effectively communicate and embed your sustainability objectives throughout your organisation, please contact us or click the button below to find out more about our engagement services.

London Luton Airport: Data at the Heart of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)

As part of our Data at the Heart campaign, we see how London Luton Airport is managing its ‘final approach’ to the ESOS deadline.

Everyone Active: Data at the Heart of Staff Engagement

In this third video for our Data at the Heart campaign, we spoke to Jon Senior, Regional Director for Everyone Active / Sports and Leisure Management.

University of Nottingham: Data at the Heart of Energy Services

In this second video of our Data at the Heart campaign, Andy Nolan, Director of Sustainability at The University of Nottingham.