Universities in the UK had a calculated energy spend of £432 million in 2015/16 , and with rising energy costs and expansion to universities estates, this may increase significantly. Investment in energy efficient technologies can not only significantly mitigate these energy-bill increases, but also help universities reduce their carbon footprints.
To date, universities in England have collectively reduced their carbon emissions by 17% based on a 2005 baseline. If they were to make the additional reduction required to meet the sector wide target of 43% by 2020, this could also provide an additional saving of almost £90m to annual energy bills.
Salix Finance has worked closely with many universities, providing interest-free finance for energy efficiency projects in line with their carbon management programmes as they seek to reduce bills and meet carbon targets. Aside from the financial and carbon savings, these energy efficiency projects have also benefited the learning and working environments around estates, reduced maintenance costs, and improved the overall standard of estates. To date, Salix Finance has financed over 4,000 energy-efficiency projects within universities. This investment of over £150 million provides estimated annual energy bill savings of over £40 million and a reduction of 150,000 tonnes to the sectors annual carbon footprint.
Over 100 technologies can be financed by Salix including Combined Heat and Power (CHP), Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) and laboratory upgrades. Universities in England have accessed over £15 million to install LED lighting across their estates, making it the most popular technology utilised to date. Lighting makes up a significant proportion of the electricity consumed across University estates, and upgrading to LED can provide significant savings, while also improving the quality of light.
One example of an HEI making significant savings through Salix finances energy-efficiency projects is St George’s, University of London. They have used £947,000 of interest-free Salix funding and £646,344 internal investment to replace their inefficient absorption chillers and install a new Building Management System at their estate. The University structured their Salix finance to draw down funding in alignment with their internal programme of works and cash flow. This investment by the University is estimated to save them over £175,000 on their energy expenditure every year, around 10% of their total energy bill, as well as saving around 636 tonnes of carbon annually, over 7% of their annual carbon footprint. After the payback period of 5 years is complete, they will continue to benefit from the significant financial savings moving forward.
Derek Bannister, Director of Estates and Facilities, St George’s, University of London said: “Our chiller replacement works have enabled us to replace our obsolete and inefficient chiller plant, with highly efficient electric air-cooled chillers. This has improved the overall resilience across our buildings and provided a platform to carry out future energy efficient improvements to our infrastructure to support our Estates Master Plan and Carbon Management Plan. The funding and assistance provided by Salix Finance has been vital in the delivery of these works and our future aims.”