UK universities get £3m cash injection for energy efficiency research
Six leading UK universities have launched new energy efficiency research projects today, thanks to a £3m cash boost from the government.
Researchers will investigate a range of issues relating to energy management in non-domestic buildings. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), on behalf of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, it aims to enable UK businesses to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions through more efficient energy use.
Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Oxford, the University of Strathclyde and the University of Southampton will run the projects investigating a range of energy efficiency strategies, from how facility managers can future-proof energy saving improvements to the use of digital cameras to monitor window blinds and lighting to cut occupants energy use.
EPSRC chief executive Professor Philip Nelson said: "These projects will go a long way to help improve our understanding of what goes on in non-domestic buildings and add to the armoury at the disposal of those managing these facilities."
Currently, 18% of the UK's carbon emissions are produced by non-domestic buildings, such as factories, hospitals, office buildings and shops. The sector is also responsible for 13% of final energy consumption.
Experts have predicted that non-domestic floor area will increase by 2050, so it will be essential for businesses to find ways of cutting their energy use. 60% of existing buildings are also expected to still be in use, so companies looking to become more energy-efficient are likely to need to undertake retrofitting projects and consider how to make changes to occupied buildings.
The new projects are set to help firms to face these challenges, by studying how technology, data, mathematics, law and sociology can be used to create better energy strategies and behaviours.
"Improving energy efficiency is an important piece of the energy puzzle," Professor Nelson said. "We need to find smart solutions to how we use energy while improving the environment in which people have to work, rest or play."
The UK's main funding agency engineering and physical sciences, the EPSRC leads the RCUK Energy Programme, which is investing more than £625 million to help the UK meet its energy and environmental targets and policy goals. In February, the EPSRC also awarded a £10.3 million grant to researchers looking for sustainable manufacturing materials.