Towards the attainment of a sustainable, healthy and living campus

University College Dublin aspires to be an exemplar institution in the field of Energy Management. We recognise that as both a public sector organisation and a third level institution we have a significant role to play in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

UCD Estate Services has been active in energy management for over 20 years, with the field growing in importance from an organisational, national and international perspective over this time. UCD has been very successful in reducing consumption, costs and emissions over this period, and continues to deliver; currently being on track towards our 33% 2020 energy targets.

UCD was the first University in Ireland to install an energy monitoring and BMS (Building Management System) in its buildings. This smart technology began as a student project and has grown into an extensive system that remotely monitors and controls heating, lighting and ventilations systems across the campus. A dedicated unit, the Energy Unit, was founded in 2003 with the sole purpose of conserving energy, reducing costs and finding more sustainable energy sources, whilst simultaneously maintaining or improving comfort levels in the buildings.

“e3 is a collaborative arrangement where the Universities share information, experience, resources and lessons learned in the field of energy management. ”

UCD was a founding member of the award winning e3 bureau, a collaborative energy management bureau involving UCD, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University and Dublin Institute of Technology. e3 is a collaborative arrangement where the Universities share information, experience, resources and lessons learned in the field of energy management.

The purpose of energy management rests on four inter-related key areas; building comfort and use, managing costs, reducing consumption and minimising emissions.

Providing buildings and facilities that meet the requirements of the users in terms of temperature, ventilation and humidity levels, as well as lighting level and quality, is a key function of Estate Services and the Energy Unit. The management of energy costs is also an important consideration, as heating and electricity costs are a considerable operational expense and are likely to increase from current levels. Achieving value for money in the sourcing of energy, as well as the effective management of UCD plant and equipment helps to keep the University energy bill to a minimum. Reducing consumption through the efficient management of plant and equipment, and through energy efficiency projects, also reduces the over-all cost of energy, but importantly reduces the emissions linked to this consumption.

As a public sector organisation, and most importantly, a University, UCD seeks to actively tackle global challenges such as climate change, not only through research and teaching activities but through the management of the University Estate. UCD has signed up to the SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland), public sector partnership programme and has committed to being an exemplar in energy management practices.

UCD achieved ISO50001 certification in 2016. This is an international standard in energy management that requires a rigorous approach to identifying key energy users, tracking and reporting energy use, identifying causes of variances, planning and implementing energy efficiency projects and seeking to continuously improve systems and process in order to cut wastage.

“The greenest energy is the energy that isn’t used.”

That the greenest energy is the one that has not been used is and adage that the UCD energy unit firmly believes in, and the primary focus of the Energy Management System (EnMs) is to improve efficiency and eliminate energy wastage. Renewables are becoming of ever increasing significance in helping reduce the world’s carbon emissions. UCD recognises this potential and has invested in a renewable biomass boiler (wood pellets) that produces heat for the University district heating system, solar PV (photovoltaics) to produce renewable electricity and solar thermal panels that produce hot water.

Through effective management systems, staff and student involvement and technological solutions, we can deliver the 2020 targets and make UCD a greener, more sustainable campus.

Public Sector Energy Efficiency Targets

The National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) states that “The public sector will improve its energy efficiency by 33% and will be seen to lead by example — showing all sectors what is possible through strong, committed action.” This 33% target, measured from a baseline of 2006-2008 is an ambitious, but achievable target and requires a focused, but University-wide approach.

What can you do to help UCD reach its 2020 targets and cut emissions?

The impact that the UCD Community can have on energy usage in the University should not be understated. Controls, equipment and other technological mechanisms are just part of the solution. The UCD Community ultimately determines the total energy usage of the campus each day. Simple things like switching off lights and projectors can have a telling effect on consumption.

The Energy Unit is challenging the University community to take part in the annual 100kWh (kilowatt hours) challenge. The challenge is for each staff and student in the University to try to reduce electricity consumption by just 100kWh each year. The University community is composed of over 30,000 staff and students, so 100kWh per person would amount to over 3,000,000kWh or almost €500,000!

How you can save 100kWh!

Through very small changes in the way in which you go about your daily life, you can relatively easily save 100kWh over a year, both in the University and at home. Some people will have more opportunity depending on the area in which they work, others by less, but all will contribute to reduced carbon emissions and help the make the University a more sustainable place to learn, live and work.

– A desktop PC running idle on a screensaver uses 550kWh over a year just on evenings and weekends. Switching off desktop PC each evening for 10 weeks would amount to 100kWh.

– Enable power saver options on your PC or laptop: these are generally in the Control Panel, select System and Security and then Power Options; select “Power Saver”. You can also change the settings to adjust when the screen shuts down and computer sleeps.

– When boiling the kettle only fill with as much water as needed. We could each save 40kWh per year by just doing this one simple measures alone. (of course it depends on how much tea or coffee you drink! – this is based on 3 cups a day!)

– Leaving office and classroom lights off when leaving the room is also a source of wastage. Please switch off when you are leaving, it is very easy for the next person to switch on again!

– “Vampire Power” or standby power is when a piece of equipment is turned off but still using electricity. The amount of power used is generally somewhere between 5-10% of the power being used when fully on. When you consider all the screens, laptops, monitors, TVs and other appliances across the University all using electricity at night and weekends you can understand how it quickly adds up. So please, switch off your computer or laptop and screen at the socket each evening.