Posted Monday 26 September 2022
Kingston University has been awarded a grant from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to fund the latest phase of a sustainability project to decarbonise the institution's heat sources.
The funding will be used to develop strategic heat decarbonisation plans for Knights Park, Roehampton Vale and Kingston Hill campuses, with Penrhyn Road having completed a similar process last year. The reports will lead to the creation of detailed timelines for works at each campus through to 2038, highlighting opportunities for decarbonisation while detailing the steps required to meet those goals.
The £174,000 funding has been awarded through the Low Carbon Skills fund commissioned by BEIS, after a total of £14 million was made available to public sector bodies. Institutions seeking to access funding submitted detailed plans explaining how the grant will be used, supported by analysis and research.
The University's Estates team has been exploring how best to reach the Scope 1 and 2 net zero targets written into the University's Sustainability Plan, with decarbonisation of heating systems throughout the University one of the key components of achieving targets, Kingston University Energy Manager Will Begg said.
"The electricity we use for our operations is naturally greening, as the national electricity grid is increasingly fed from renewable sources with reductions to coal usage," he said. "However, as long as we are burning gas we are producing carbon emissions and that is the key challenge we are looking to overcome. We follow the energy hierarchy – reduce demand as much as possible, locate areas of inefficiency and eliminate usage, and introduce renewable technology to replace older equipment."
The design approaches developed by the project will be informed by the University's Sustainability Plan, published in 2021 and developed in consultation with staff and students, together with inputs from the wider Kingston community. The plan takes a holistic approach to sustainability, presenting the institution's ambitions in relation to both operational and academic activities. The University has identified three distinct areas in which carbon reductions can be targeted – by reducing direct CO2 emissions on site such as gas burned on campus as well as energy consumed on site but produced elsewhere, and by addressing the emissions associated with the University's supply chain, such as equipment procured for use by students and staff.
Mr Begg said the decarbonisation reports will be central to mapping out the sustainable direction of the University up until 2050. "The University has achieved a 65 per cent emission reduction to date from a variety of interventions made since 2005 including enhancement of controls, more efficient power plants and lighting upgrades," he said. "The remaining 35 per cent is significantly more difficult to achieve and this is where the funding will make a real difference in our ability to successfully transition to net zero. The plans could inform plant replacement or even contract renewals, with which we incentivise sustainability."
Alongside its decarbonisation plans the University is exploring a range of ways in which to reduce emissions, through new technologies, systems and efficiency savings. One of the latest innovations is the use of CO2 sensors that allow automated ventilation adjustments to be made within lecture theatres based on how many people are inside at any one time.. There is also a focus on sourcing energy directly from independent, 100 per cent renewable energy providers, with some initiatives including bulk purchasing with groups of universities and a new electrical vehicle contract which will improve existing provision and ensuring connection with the latest generation of chargers.
Director of Estates and Sustainability Sean Woulfe said the BEIS funding would provide a boost to the University's net zero plans. "I am delighted the work Will has been doing in preparing for this application and the undoubted advances we have made in this area have led to this successful funding," he said. "Net zero is an important ambition of the University, shared by our whole community. Initiatives such as this will help us to achieve our targets and by doing so, help tackle the global climate crisis."