As 2019 begins, we take a look at our plans for delivering environmental sustainability at the University this coming year.
Where we are
2018 was our most successful year yet sustainability-wise, with major reductions in waste production and water consumption and increases in sustainable travel levels. For an interactive look back, view our Annual Sustainability Report.
Where we’re going
Continuous improvement is a key part of strong environmental management, and 2019 promises to be no exception.
We are developing plans for our first ever ‘Energy Hack’, building on the success of previous Blackout events to reduce energy consumption in our buildings. We will be focussing on a number of buildings across the estate, engaging students and staff to work with us to improve the efficiency of their study and work environments, and have some fun along the way!
Following a doubling of our solar panel installations in 2018, we plan yet more installations, at our Thames Valley Science Park, London Road campus and the Museum of English Rural Life. This will include our first installations through Reading Community Energy Society, enabling local investors to support and play a part in our sustainability journey.
Working with our School of the Built Environment, we’re installing our first energy storage system on campus; a 30 kW lithium iron battery. This will tap into National Grid’s ‘grid balancing services’ to help balance electricity demand and electricity supply quality, supporting growing renewable energy solutions in the UK.
As budgets are squeezed, continuing to invest in energy efficiency becomes ever more challenging at the same time as becoming ever more pressing. As well as making best use of internally available funding, we will be exploring opportunities to work with external organisations to help fund our carbon and water reduction programme at an increased scale, sharing the benefits this can deliver through so-called ‘energy performance contracts’.
Paper cup recycling
Following a successful pilot in 2018, we are rolling out paper cup recycling to every building on campus. Encouraging re-useable cup usage will continue to be our first priority, building on the 40% of hot drinks already being sold on campus in reusable cups. However, we recognise that paper cup wastage is a continued environmental challenge, and in partnership with our local waste services provider, are pleased to be expanding the excellent recycling scheme trialled in 2018, which separates the plastic lining from the paper cup and recycles both materials.
We’re getting there, sustainably!
Having achieved our 2022 target for levels of sustainable travel 4 years early, we’re aiming to go even further this year! Already, 85% of student and staff journeys to and from campus are through sustainable travel methods, and we will continue to promote sustainable travel options throughout the year. We plan to re-vamp our Lift Share scheme to encourage more drivers to share their journey with others, and to further expand our cycle skills training which is equipping students and staff with the knowledge and skills to cycle confidently to campus.
Follow us here or on social media to keep in touch with our progress in the year ahead.