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The University of Sussex's new photovoltaics

University of Sussex pledges to 'go greener'

The institution begins the largest solar project in UK higher education

Posted by Hannah Vickers | July 05, 2017 | Sustainability

The University of Sussex has begun its journey to become one of the greenest universities in the UK and is working towards cutting its carbon emissions by 45% by 2020. 

The University, which is home to some of the world’s leading sustainability academics, has begun a multi-million pound ‘go greener’ programme which will initially see over 3,000 photovoltaics fitted on buildings, the replacement of 27,000 light bulbs with more efficient LED lighting, improved heating and cooling systems and smart metering installed across the campus.

Situated on the edge of the South Downs, a world-recognised biosphere reserve, the University is investing £1.5 million in its new photovoltaic installation. This installation will provide almost 5% of the Falmer campus’s electricity needs, in what will be the largest solar project in the UK higher education sector.

Over the next three years the University will be looking to replace current energy systems with more sustainable alternatives. The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Adam Tickell, has also announced that he has his sights set on the institution becoming one of the most energy efficient universities in the UK within the next 10 years.   

As a University, it is only right that we live by our values and ensure our campus is as green as possible - Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, Adam Tickell, said: “As a University, it is only right that we live by our values and ensure our campus is as green as possible. This is exactly why over the next three years I will be spearheading a programme which aims to significantly reduce the University’s carbon emissions. I am committed to the University looking at a whole institution approach to carbon reduction and working to ensure this is embedded in everything we do. 

“The University of Sussex is home to some of the most eminent sustainability experts. With their knowledge and the passion of our campus community, I want to lead by example and show just how dramatically an institution can reduce its carbon emissions. This is an ambitious task, but I believe that all organisations should stand up and be counted on their commitment to the preservation of our planet.”

The University is also home to the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP), which aims to provide the scientific support needed for a more sustainable society.

Former UN Environment Programme Chief Scientist and the new Director of SSRP, Professor Joseph Alcamo said: “There are few institutions in the world investing as much in sustainable science research as the University of Sussex and so it’s only fitting that we do all we can to make the University itself sustainable. The plans to reduce waste and generate renewable energy are good moves in this direction. I think every university needs to step up and makes its contribution to a more sustainable world and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

The new programme was spearheaded by University of Sussex academics and energy demand experts. An ongoing Research Councils UK funded project, led by Professor Jan Selby and the DEMAND Centre, looking at how non-energy policies and practices can have knock-on effects on energy demand, will be used to inform the new ‘go greener programme’.

Higher education is one of the UK’s largest non-commercial consumers of energy - Professor Jan Selby, University of Sussex

Professor Jan Selby, from the University of Sussex, said: “By bringing together key people from across the University who work on energy demand and policy, we have been able to spearhead a new programme which will significantly help us reduce our carbon footprint.

“Higher education is one of the UK’s largest non-commercial consumers of energy. The new investment we have made here at the University of Sussex and the innovative way we are using research to inform this programme is a great example of best practice, which we hope will be shared across the sector.” 

The University’s carbon reduction programme will also include an awareness raising programme for students, staff and visitors, showing them how they can contribute to the University’s ‘go greener’ programme.

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