Installing solar panels – are they worth it?

Opinion: Dan Fernbank, Energy & Sustainability Director With energy prices skyrocketing, I find myself increasingly being asked whether solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are good investments at home.  There is no one answer to this question, but set out below are my suggestions of points to consider. The roof Firstly, do you own your home?  If you live in a flat, it is likely to be leasehold and so any roof installation would need the permission of the landlord. Assuming you have the right to install a PV system, your roof needs to be between east and west facing – ideally…
Read More

Delivering Net Zero Carbon – FAQs

This blog follows up a recent all-staff presentation on the University's Net Zero Carbon strategy, aiming to address the key questions raised. Active travel The University has invested over £500,000 in improved on-campus pedestrian and cycling facilities over the last 5 years, but we recognise that many of the barriers to more active travel lie outside of our boundaries.  We do actively engage with the local councils, have supported the installation of a much-needed pedestrian crossing on Pepper Lane and have committed our support for a crossing on Upper Redlands Road too. Reading Borough Council currently has a live consultation…
Read More

Grant funding award for Earley Gate decarbonisation study

The University has recently been awarded a £50,000 grant from Phase 2 of Salix Finance’s Low Carbon Skills Fund (LCSF2) to undertake a heat decarbonisation study for the Earley Gate side of the Whiteknights campus. Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the LCSF2 is specifically focused on helping the public sector make plans for how they can decarbonise their heating systems in the years ahead.  The University’s Net Zero Carbon Plan commits it to full decarbonisation of its heating systems by 2030 and with all of the buildings on Earley Gate currently heated with gas…
Read More

Fridge freezer upgrades completed

We are pleased to publish details of a further two Salix grant-funded projects which we have now completed the energy saving measurements for. Over several weeks during spring 2021, a large number of lab refrigeration units at Whiteknights campus were replaced. These included refrigeration units, non-ultra-low temperature freezers (-20°C) and ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers (-80°C). Each project has produced good energy savings, with a combined total annual saving of £ 5,450 per year and 8.3 tonnes CO2 per year. Why were the refrigeration units upgraded? Most of the refrigeration units were aging and inefficient, using excess electricity and resulting in…
Read More

First Salix grant-funded project complete!

We are pleased to announce that we have now completed the energy saving measurements from our first Salix grant-funded project - upgrading the existing lab drying ovens in operation across our Whiteknights campus. Drying ovens are typically used to dry a variety of equipment including glassware (test tubes, etc.) and instruments but they can also be used for general purpose warming. The upgrades have produced better energy savings than predicted, and we can expect this project to have a payback period of 5 years. Why were the lab drying ovens upgraded? Most of the previous drying ovens in operation were…
Read More

In defence of ‘Net Zero’ Carbon

“Net zero carbon" seems to be the new catch phrase in discussions on climate change action, but what does it mean, and is it just green wash? It's fair to say there are different interpretations of what 'net zero' means, and some frankly dubious claims being made about appropriate pathways to net zero. That said, there are good guidelines available which set boundaries and standards for robust net Zero plans, such as PAS 2060 and the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The University sees Net Zero Carbon as meaning: Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as little as possible and then…
Read More

Sustainable university living

I’ve escaped from my desk to come and sit in Park Eat café/bar to write this article. Immediately I arrive, I’m confronted with an environmental dilemma. I’ve brought my Sustain It mug (of course!) for a cup of tea, but realise I can’t get any milk out of the machine because my cup isn’t chipped. The catering staff offer to put some milk in a paper cup. I insist I don’t want a paper cup and they insist it’s no bother. How should I respond? Back down politely and take the cup, or stick to my green guns and insist…
Read More

Compare buildings

The University spends nearly £3 million each year on electricity. Use the dashboards below to explore where it all goes and compare the consumption and efficiency of different buildings. How do the buildings you use perform? Select a date range and scroll down through the buildings to compare their electricity use per square meter. Click on a segment of the pie to compare similar buildings. Any questions? Email us. Use the dashboard below to compare the electricity consumption of different Halls  Any questions? Email us. Investigate buildings' overnight baselines and see how your building is doing compared to its target here.
Read More