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Building energy and emissions A building's energy use, whether electrical or thermal, remains one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions in any given university and thus requires significant attention. Identifying key stakeholders who have the greatest level of influence over building design and operations, and getting their buy-in, is critical to making significant reductions to planned and ongoing energy consumption. Defining minimum standards for buildings and technology is a good place to start. Engaging building occupants is also critical. The full potential of energy-efficient design and technology can only be realised if the occupants and operators are informed and committed. Energy efficiency should be embedded in buildings from the very start, and planners should insist that sustainability initiatives are not value-managed out of building projects. A small upfront cost can generate significant financial savings and emission reductions over the lifetime of the building. Good thermal and lighting design can also improve the work/study environment and boost performance and wellbeing. Heating, cooling, and ICT (data centres, computer labs, etc.) contribute to a significant portion of a university’s carbon footprint, so addressing these will have a significant impact in reducing the energy footprint. Finally, it is important to monitor progress on energy savings and CO2 emissions, and communicate this internally to management, staff, students and external stakeholders.


IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER • Establish low carbon standards for new buildings, retrofits and existing buildings and develop strategies to achieve them. • Set carbon emissions targets for all buildings according to best practice standards for relevant building types. Buildings from outside the university sector can provide ideas for relevant benchmarks.

Thinking ahead when designing and setting clear goals is of great importance. Good research regarding all parameters including siting, occupant behaviour and building regulations helps to set the boundaries and provide information about the design limitations. An integrated approach reduces emissions, minimises the building footprint and reduces the impact on the surroundings. Minimising impervious surfaces will reduce flooding and overheating in the microclimate. Use of energy efficient equipment and eco-friendly products within the building can also serve to enhance performance and reduce the overall footprint.


IARU - Green Guide for Universities – pathways towards sustainability  

Green Guide for Universities – IARU pathways towards sustainability developed by 10 leading international universities and the think-tank Su...

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