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University of London profiled in green organisations report

Report from SmartestEnergy warns UK companies missing out on business benefits of switch to renewable power

Posted by Stephanie Broad | March 03, 2016 | Sustainability

A new report from SmartestEnergy, Business and the Renewables Revolution, reveals that switching to renewable power is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways for organisations to cut their carbon footprint, adding less than one percent to power bills. 

However, while 74% of the UK’s 100 biggest companies have set carbon-cutting targets, only 38% of the FTSE 100 purchased renewable electricity in 2015, according to carbon management consultancy Carbon Clear.

Robert Groves, CEO of SmartestEnergy, said: “Smart companies should rethink their energy supply and understand the benefits that switching to renewables can bring to their business, to the economy, and to tackling the global threat of climate change.”

The University of London is profiled in the report, which shows how organisations can play a leading role in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The University of London is Britain’s second biggest university by number of students. The central university purchases energy in a consortium with five other universities and colleges and has a sustainability target of purchasing 100% renewable electricity.

John Bailey, Sustainability Manager at University of London, said: “The cost of paying the extra for renewables was so small in comparison to our annual bill it was pretty much insignificant – it was cheap. When we produce our carbon figures, we are now talking about the fact that we’re only buying renewable energy. It’s such an easy thing for people to understand.” 

He said that flexible purchasing had saved the group hundreds of thousands of pounds in comparison with their previous fixed-price contract. Combined with the 100% renewable product it was generating a lot of interest from other universities. John also said there was a big reputational benefit, sending a strong statement to students and staff that the university was committed to sustainability.

The private sector uses more than 56% of all power generated in the UK so businesses have a major role to play in meeting national climate change targets. Energy labelling now allows businesses to report the precise carbon footprint of renewable electricity, and this could see clean power supply nearly half of all industrial and commercial demand by 2020.

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