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Crackdown on energy-wasters

University to reduce energy consumption by 20 per cent before 2013. It is all about reducing carbon emissions and cutting costs

Not to be outdone by other academic institutions around the world, the University of Copenhagen is hoping to reduce its own carbon ‘footprint’. But while other universities go for long-term complete carbon neutrality, the University of Copenhagen is taking small, but specific, steps at a time.

Canada’s University of British Columbia plans to be CO2 neutral by 2050. The University of Melbourne in Australia aims for a neutral campus in 2030. The University of Copenhagen is trying to slash its energy bill by 20 per cent before 2013.

»The University of Copenhagen is quite ambitious if you look at other universities. Many universities have targets, but they are in the long-term,« comments Tomas Refslund Poulsen, who heads the Green Campus Initiative.

Read article:‘Copenhagen saved on energy bill’ here

Energy hogs

The ‘wet’ faculties, those that use laboratories, are the greatest energy hogs, Poulsen explains.

The Faculty of Science comes out on top, using 39 per cent of the university’s total energy (DKK 60 million annually). Not far behind is the Faculty of Health Sciences with 24 per cent of the share.

Although smaller ‘dry’ faculties like Theology use the least, the Green Action campaign and the Green Campus Initiative targets the university as a whole, regardless of who is the biggest energy consumer.

Nonetheless, more money for retrofitting is allocated to those that need it most.

Long term savings

DKK 120 million will be invested in retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency.

Currently, the University pays a DKK 177 million energy bill. With a 20 per cent reduction in energy use, the university hopes to save a lot of money in the longer term, which can then be put back into research, hiring and improved facilities.

While many universities buy carbon offsets to counteract their environmental footprint,
Poulsen thinks that Copenhagen’s Green Campus initiative is unique because it involves actually changing the behaviour of University staff and students.

‘Not my responsibility’ thinking

It is the responsibility of each faculty to promote the behavioural change within offices and laboratories. In 2009 over 200 staff members became green ambassadors, all recruited to hold their colleagues accountable for turning off lights, computers and unused equipment.

One of the barriers to energy efficient behavior, comments Poulsen, is the lack of questioning whether leaving a piece of equipment on is necessary. Others, he says, feel that it is not their responsibility to turn off machines in the office.

It is estimated that behavioural changes will contribute one fifth of the energy use reductions. The rest will come from retrofits, green buildings and the replacement of inefficient equipment.

Read how Copenhagen cut 10 per cent of its energy costs here.

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