University announces carbon neutral ambitions

A university is hoping to build a £20m environmental research centre and become carbon neutral as part of its ambitions to become a hub for sustainable energy.

Keele University, in Staffordshire, recently achieved the Carbon Trust Standard after reducing its carbon output on energy consumption by 3%, and now wants to build on this.

University chiefs believe the site could become a research hub for the study and development of a range of environmental and sustainable technologies.

It is currently in talks with a number of companies to begin generating its own power from renewable sources on campus, which it hopes will halve its energy bills.

It is hoped the campus will then become a showcase for using renewable energy resources on sites with such varied uses.

It is searching for funding for a £20m development including a research centre and enhancements to the campus environment.

Unveiling the plans at a special event on the university campus, Professor Patrick Bailey, dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences said: “The emphasis will be on a mix of energy sources rather than a reliance on any one single source.

“We aim to reduce external energy consumption by 50% within five years and to become completely ‘carbon neutral’ in our energy usage within 10 years.

“In addition, we will create a campus community with sustainable energy at the heart of its ethos and values.

“There are exciting possibilities for joint enterprises with industry and government, the development of courses and training programmes, and the development of research expertise with UK and international partners.”

However, university chiefs acknowledged that it could be several years before its renewable energy ambitions were realised, and it is likely to be another two years before planning applications are submitted.

Energy-saving initiatives on campus so far have included a major boiler and control replacement programme, improvements to building fabric, upgrading of lighting, and replacement of aged water mains.

More information about Keele’s sustainability hub vision can be found here.

Kate Martin

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