Progressing Towards a Sustainable Future

This year has been one of achievement for sustainability at the University. Concerns around environmental issues locally, nationally and internationally have continued to grow in prominence, and this in turn has seen a distinct increase in the appetite and expectation for sustainability action within the University. This has also been evident in the appetite for sustainability to feature within the University’s new core Strategy. The 2019/20 academic year promises to be an exciting one for sustainability, and one in which we can set new expectations for our ongoing environmental leadership. Cutting Carbon  Having now exceeded 40% carbon reductions since our 2008/09 baseline year, and on track to reach 43% - 45% reduction by 2021. The programme has delivered £30 million in cumulative revenue savings since 2011. This year alone, we have installed over 500 individual solar panels, at Whiteknights, London Road, Greenlands and Thames Valley Science Park. Meanwhile, energy efficiency continues to play a key role, such as in IT’s upgrades and...
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Exploring low carbon heating in Henley-on-Thames

Using the River Thames for heat Since 2017, the University has been investigating the potential to provide low carbon heating to its Henley Business School, Greenlands campus. The site has a prime location on the banks of the River Thames on the outskirts of Henley-on-Thames. Heating at the site is currently from oil-fired boilers in each building and investigations have identify a water source heat pump to be a viable low carbon alternative. The large heat body of the River Thames nearby makes this a potentially ideal resource for low-grade heat to be extracted from. In simple terms, a heat pump works like a fridge – low grade heat is drawn from a heat source by evaporating a liquid, which draws out heat.  This is then condensed at high pressure to produce useful building heat; producing around 3 units of heat output for every 1 unit of energy input. For a water source heat pump, the river water would first run through a...
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Student Sustainability Assistants

In the spring term Sustainability Services have taken on 4 Student Sustainability Assistants to help aid some of the many exciting upcoming projects. The areas where most of the work is being focussed, is improvements to Recycling and Travel at the University. Mike is a second year Environmental Management student working with the team and this is an update on how he is finding his time with the team. I started working with Sustainability Services at the start of January to aid Ruth Harris and Anna Glue with the new bin installations at London Road and MERL. This included labelling up new bins in relation to a floor plan to help with easy distribution on the day. Carrying out this fundamental work helped with developing my reading of complex floor plans and developing strategies for distribution which I feel will benefit me with further studies but also in jobs in the future. Alongside the bin installations I carried out audits...
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Green Gown Award win for Carbon Reduction

We’re proud to be awarded winner in this year’s carbon reduction category at the EAUC’s Green Gown Awards, recognising our significant achievements in delivering a 35%* reduction in our emissions across the University. Established in 2004, the Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the UK and Ireland. With sustainability moving up the agenda, the Awards have become established as the most prestigious recognition of best practice within the further and higher education sector. The ethos of the awards is to celebrate, share and promote the outstanding sustainability leadership, management and best practice initiatives from tertiary education in the UK. The judges described Reading’s entry as “A very comprehensive carbon reduction project producing significant savings. Students have been integral to achieving a 35% reduction in carbon emissions in an imaginative way.” How did we achieve it? The approach we have taken doesn’t focus on one technology or action but rather a large number of complementary...
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Green Gown shortlisting for smashing our 35% carbon target!

Our achievements in meeting our 35% carbon reduction target have been recognised with a shortlisting in the Carbon Reduction category of the EAUC's Green Gown Awards, which recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the UK. Since 2011, we have reduced our annual carbon emissions from 44,000 tCO2 to just over 28,500 tCO2, making us the leader amongst research-intensive universities for delivering sustained reductions in our emissions.*  Our wide-ranging programme has delivered over £17 million of financial savings for the University, whilst delivering more efficiency buildings, improving building comfort and upgrading science laboratory facilities. Sir David Bell, University of Reading Vice-Chancellor, said “We are delighted to be nominated for a Green Gown Award again this year, in recognition of our significant achievements in reducing the carbon emissions from our operations. This further reinforces the commitment of the University to sustainability as well as our ability to deliver all that we have promised.” Watch our short video highlighting our...
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University leads the way in reducing carbon emissions

The University of Reading has been ranked as one of the best universities in the country for reducing its environmental impacts.  In Brite Green’s lastest University Carbon Reduction Report, the University ranks: 5th for overall carbon emissions reductions 2nd for annual carbon reductions 2nd greatest reduction in carbon emissions per £ income We are proud of our achievements in reducing our carbon footprint; being the best research-intensive university in the country for delivering absolute reductions.  Brite Green’s report underlines our success as a sector leader, and we are particularly pleased to have made the 2nd best annual reductions (from 2014/15 – 2015/16) of any university in England. We are committed to continuing this progress, and plan to invest a further £6.2 million in meeting our next carbon and water reduction targets by July 2021.  Our new Carbon & Water Management Plan Summary provides a quick overview of what we’ve got planned in the coming years.         Footnote: The University’s own carbon reporting includes a...
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New drinks machines provide free water and cut plastic waste

University students and staff will help stop more than half a million plastic bottles being thrown away every year with the introduction of new drinks machines around campus. The University of Reading is becoming the first university in the UK to introduce new vending machines designed to provide healthier drink choices and cut the volume of plastic waste on campus. Around 650,000 plastic bottled drinks are used across the University’s Whiteknights and London Road campuses each year. To reduce the volume of plastic used on campus, the University is this week launching the Sustain It bottle – a reusable bottle that uses technology to offer students and staff a range of vending machine drinks. The Sustain It bottle contains a microchip that allows users to pre-pay for drinks either in multiples of 10 (£12) or unlimited use for an academic term (£39.95). Most of these will be zero and low-calorie options. Free filtered water will also be available at each machine, allowing students and staff...
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Q and A with Abi, our summer intern

This summer, Abi worked to raise awareness of the University’s new Waste Strategy including the new 60% recycling target. This included upgrading recycling facilities across ten buildings on campus, communicating with staff and students and investigate waste and recycling issues across campus. What did your role involved? As a Junior Sustainability Officer, I created a communication plan to engage with staff and students about upgrading facilities across campus. From Health & Safety’s input into the floorplans, porters’ assistance in moving newly unpacked and labelled bins and talking to staff during our recycling roadshows- this internship has taught me the importance of communication across all services and departments. In addition to co-ordinating distribution of stock, I also undertook investigative tasks across campus such as resolving recycling from sports pitches and a fall in Foxhill House’s recycling rate. Whilst putting our Sherlock caps on, we managed to form both temporary and permanent solution for this and other scenarios. What have you gained from this experience? A vast...
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Key Staff and Committees

Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor Environmental Sponsor, University Executive Board   Janis Pich Director of Estates   Dan Fernbank Energy and Sustainability Manager Dan has been Energy & Sustainability Manager at the University since 2011, leading their estate-wide sustainability programmes, delivering a 41% cut in their carbon emissions and 29% cut in their water consumption; saving in excess of £30 million in the process.  He is also a voluntary Director for Reading Community Energy Society, which to date has installed over 400 kWp of community-funded solar PV in and around Reading. Dan is a registered Practitioner in Managing Successful Programmes (MSP), is an Associate Member with the Energy Institute (AMEI) and in 2014 completed a first class honours Environmental Studies BSc through the Open University. “The University has long been a leader in teaching and research into a more sustainable future. We are proud to be leading by example too in delivering a more sustainable, low carbon estate through the implementation of our Sustainability programmes”   Anna Glue Sustainability Officer Anna joined the...
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Environmental Fund – Success Story!

In March 2017, the Old Whiteknights House Green team were the successful recipients of money from an environmental fund, set up to support staff and students to undertake green projects important to them. Their project looked to encourage staff and students to get involved with a small kitchen garden they proposed to plant in the grounds of their building. The benefits of this were two-fold, to engage people with a very tangible environmental project near to their place of study/work but also to increase well-being with gardening a proven way to improve people's level of happiness. Over the last month, during the fantastic weather we've been having, Helen and Nicky have been out purchasing plants and getting them planted outside the building. All the plants that have been chosen are ones that can be used in the kitchen, another way to engage and interest people. Since planting, they've both been engaging mint tea from their very own kitchen garden! If you are interested...
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