Universities need to be more efficient, claims new guide

Universities and colleges are not doing enough to be energy efficient, claim advisors at The Energy Consortium. The organisation has just published guides which suggest thats higher and further education […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Universities and colleges are not doing enough to be energy efficient, claim advisors at The Energy Consortium.

The organisation has just published guides which suggest thats higher and further education bodies could do a lot more to save money and attract funding by employing energy and water efficiency in university buildings and by generating renewable energy themselves.

Alan Brookes, Director of Operations at TEC said: “Our country’s universities and FE colleges are the envy of the world for academic excellence and this ethos of excellence is reflected in their drive for energy efficiency. But if they wish to continue to attract both funding and students they’re going to have to improve their energy efficiency further still.”

But some experts say that many are already doing much to increase their efficiency. A spokesperson for Universities UK said: “The sector already has a number of networks and important initiatives supporting sustainable development.”

Efficiency targets set by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) have also had a big impact on HE organisations, which could lose out on cash if they don’t squash their carbon footprint.

Iain Patton, CEO at the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges told ELN: “It’s a hot topic at the moment. Particularly because HEFCE now has formal carbon reduction targets linked to capital expenditure.”

Funding projects was difficult though, he added: “The sector is desperate for funds to invest in efficiency, it’s very up for it. There’s already been a huge amount of refurbishment and retrofitting. We have reductions in funding though and there’s a question mark over fees – there are implications from that.”

Mr Patton suggested that looking to the example of the United States, where ringfenced pots of money are available to invest in efficiency measures with profits going back into the pot, could be the way forward for the English university sector.