The University’s Energy Services Team monitor energy and carbon across the entire University as part of the Climate Plan and in support of the Sustainability Strategy and Strategy2026 Net Zero Carbon targets. Energy, Sustainability, the University of Liverpool Energy Company (ULEC) and the Climate Action Group work together to develop a series of initiatives and interventions for improving energy efficiency around the University, in addition to the development of the long-term Net Zero Carbon strategy. The Energy Team is also working with the wider FRCS Department to support campus optimisation and building efficiency. Key performance is reported quarterly to the Climate Action Group and, subsequently, the Sustainability Board.
Our Carbon Footprint
The University’s Scope 1 and 2 carbon footprint is approx. 40,000 tonnes CO2 per annum. This places it at around the 10th highest emitter and energy user across HE. This footprint is typical for a large, Russell Group and research-intensive institution. Historically the University has mitigated a portion of its emissions through its extensive onsite District Network, which generated power and heat via gas-fuelled CHP (combined heat and power). However, as electricity through the National Grid becomes cleaner and greener, we need to look at how we diversify and adapt our network – and enhance our built estate – to achieve a net-zero future. These challenges present two key opportunities for climate action: transform our district energy and heat network to a zero-carbon operation and achieve a highly energy-efficient campus.
Solutions for delivering a net zero carbon energy footprint
There are several components to a long-term decarbonisation plan; some of these are actionable in the short term whereas others will require longer term infrastructural planning and adaptations. All are essential to delivering on the University’s 2035 net zero target.
The solution is a blended one, comprising energy reduction, decarbonisation of our heat network, an increase in renewable electricity demand, and mitigating other residual emissions from fossil fuels.
Energy reduction can be delivered through changes in estate, improving efficiency of existing buildings and infrastructure, engagement with building users (or other initiatives) to eliminate unnecessary energy consumption.
Decarbonisation of heat may require innovation in fuel mixes and adoption of wide scale zero carbon technology. The University already operates a 100% renewables electricity tariff (although this is reported using an average National Grid carbon intensity so does not always present as zero carbon) and can explore opportunities to increase onsite renewable generation in addition to its existing solar arrays. For University vehicles, decarbonisation likely means a transition to an all-electric fleet.
Energy saving initiatives
Successful funding applications to Salix (Salix Finance provides interest-free Government funding to the public sector to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills) totaling nearly £4m, have enabled the University to invest heavily in technology that will reduce its carbon footprint and assist towards achieving the 36% carbon reduction target set to meet both HEFCE and national carbon reduction targets.
Major achievements include the new gas engine CHP plant, revised heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) operating profile and the automatic power-down software for computers. Recent projects include installation of voltage optimisers, draught proofing, building management system (BMS) upgrade, and installation double glazing to listed buildings.
Student switch off
Student switch off is an energy saving competition running between the halls of residence. Individual prizes are given out throughout the year to students who sign up to be Eco-power Rangers and participate in climate change quizzes and photo competitions via Facebook. As well as individual incentives, the best hall at the end of the year wins a celebratory party. The University has seen real energy savings in the Halls of residences, through the Student Switch Off campaign.
Race to Zero campaign
The University has made a pledge to the Race to Zero global campaign which aims to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. It mobilizes a coalition of leading net zero initiatives, representing 733 cities, 31 regions, 3,067 businesses, 173 of the biggest investors, and 622 Higher Education Institutions. These ‘real economy’ actors join 120 countries in the largest ever alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.
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