2015 signals a new phase in Plant Sciences' efforts to reduce energy consumption and be greener. Martin Howes has arrived to fill the new role of Energy Co-ordinator, getting to grips with the department’s usage and deliver improvements.
By area, the Plant Growth Facility is the most energy intensive building of the entire university, costing £1000 every day in electricity. The department itself on the Downing Site sits easily in the 'top 25'. The University identified Plant Sciences as a high energy user after rolling out its Electricity Incentivisation Scheme (EIS) in 2008. This led to the department becoming a pilot on the Energy and Carbon Reduction Project (ECRP) in 2011, freeing up funding for carbon-saving projects.
To help Plant Sciences achieve its carbon reduction targets, Martin has been brought in: "With energy efficiency as my primary role, I am able to monitor utility consumption, interact with staff and students and find opportunities for improvement. Working alongside the maintenance team here at Plant Sciences and the Energy & Environment team at Estate Management, we can make the required changes and deliver those improvements. Less gets spent on energy bills and carbon emissions are reduced."
Early signs have been positive. Insulation and controls have been added to drying cabinets and the energy savings will pay off the materials costs in less than three months. Interrogating building management software has revealed numerous inefficiencies in the heating of the Ground Floor Teaching Laboratory. At the Plant Growth Facility, metering is being installed ahead of the arrival of the first LED lighting canopies to be fitted in the growth rooms, which will allow the savings they will bring to be quantified.
Reducing the department's consumption without impacting research is both necessary and achievable. Let's make plant research greener!