As a University our de-carbonising strategy is to be carbon–net zero by 2030. This target means that the sustainability team are working to find new ways to reduce the total energy and gas we use, to make progress towards our goal. With success in 2021, Dr. Samantha Mudie who now works in the sustainability department at Reading, oversaw the installation of new and more efficient catering appliances in our on-campus food outlets which helped saved a total of 67.9 tonnes of carbon per annum.
The project, which was funded by Salix, involved intensive monitoring work that administered the replacement of 18 aging, inefficient catering ovens with 16 new units across 7 catering establishments. Some of the catering ovens were over 22 years old, meaning that the updated ovens are more reliable and have improved efficiencies, generating energy savings going forward. You may recognise some of these well-used catering outlets on campus that were the most energy consuming, such as Park Eat, Eat at the Square and St. Pats. Overall the project was a success and generated annual energy savings of £45,513 from electric and gas, and 326,214 Kwh in 2021, as well as the eradication of 67.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide that would have been produced from our catering outlets if the project was not undertaken successfully.
One of our Catering ovens on campus
Dr. Samantha Mudie, The Sustainability Teams Energy Officer, gained her PhD in “Energy Reduction in Commercial Food Preparation” at Reading University in 2017, and was keen to make an accurate assessment of the savings. Here she makes her statement on the project’s success: “It was a real privilege to use my thesis to report on energy saving at the University itself. It’s tricky to assess the energy reduction of catering appliances. To gain accurate, comparable data one must assess the capacity of the appliance, temperature settings, throughput of food, and look at exactly what food preparation processes and menu items are used in the specific ovens of interest. Thankfully I had built a published model for this, and the catering department keep excellent records. Combined, these were used to determine the energy savings on a granular level”.
Dr. Samantha Mudie also carried out a similar project more recently to save energy in catering outlets. The new replacements featured a demand-controlled ventilation system that automatically detects changes in the air, thus saving energy. This new addition is estimated to save 137,418 kWh annually, equating to a cost saving of over £20,000. This is the equivalent to removing the electricity demand of more than 45 houses from the grid! If you want to find out more about the ventilation systems in more detail, click this link to our blog : Saving energy in our kitchens with Cheetah! – Sustainability (reading.ac.uk).