UWE Bristol backs 100% green electricity consumption

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) will be opting for a 100% green electricity tariff with EDF from October 2016 under a new framework from The Energy Consortia (TEC).

UWE Bristol spends circa £3 million (€3.4m) per year on electricity and for an uplift of less than 0.3% has chosen to secure 100% of its electricity supply from renewable sources, verified by the REGO (Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin) certificates.

UWE Bristol has plans to be wholly integrated into a circular economy by 2020. This means the university aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

‘No brainer’

Energy manager for UWE Bristol, Fabia Jeddere-Fisher, said: “The new TEC Framework with EDF has now made it possible for us to purchase electricity guaranteed from renewable sources that is affordable and doesn’t put a strain on our budget.

“This was a no-brainer for us. Our students and staff still get an excellent service overall, plus we know the electricity we consume on site has come from renewable sources either on-site, including our new 450kWp PV array, or from our new renewable tariff.”

In addition, this switch will move us into the top quartile of universities making this commitment to purchasing renewable energy. We are currently somewhere in the middle of the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) Green Scorecard for this measure, but this commitment will see us leap up the ratings.”

‘Step in the right direction’

William Liew, finance director for UWE Bristol, said: “This is another big step in the right direction and shows how we are striving to strategically integrate sustainability across all activities. Together with the decision to invest in the largest PV Array in the HE Sector, this move sends out a positive message to our staff, students and wider community that we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment

“Buying green electricity integrates with the raft of other sustainable initiatives, from how we plan our building projects to how we develop transport options.”

Consuming energy

Jeddere-Fisher said:  “We believe that UWE Bristol is setting a great example. The more large businesses and institutions that opt to buy into this way of consuming energy, the more we can collectively encourage the industry to deliver more renewable energy options. If there is demand, the pressure to supply will be established. Using the TEC framework, there are a number of other Universities also making this move, and together we can really stimulate this market.

 “But renewable tariffs aren’t the only aspect of our Low Carbon Strategy at UWE. We believe the central and most important aspect is reducing the demand from the buildings and their users themselves. We have developed low energy use features into all of our building projects over the past years, from straw bale insulation at R-Block to presence detecting and LED lighting.

“And it is projects such as these that enabled us to win the 2016 Go Green award for ‘Most Improved’ organisation in the ‘Energy and Efficiency’ category. We were also a finalist in the 2016 EAUC Green Gown awards for ‘Built Environment’ for our implementation of BSRIA Soft Landings on projects such as the refurbishment at the Bower Ashton Campus which achieved a 45% carbon saving on a pre-refurbished building, based on 18 months of post-occupancy data.”

UWE Bristol is the first UK University to receive the NUS Responsible Futures Accreditation, under the full scheme.

This accreditation recognises the partnership working by the Students’ Union at UWE Bristol and the University to promote and embed education for sustainable development (ESD) in its curricula, help students to understand the sustainability challenge facing society and prepare them to contribute to the green and low-carbon economy.

This story was written by Liz Gyekye, editor of Bioenergy Insight. 

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