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Managing Energy Efficiency to Reach Net Zero

18 Oct 2022
Sustainability Stage

Decarbonising a university estate – the path beyond a pathway: Developing a Business Case for the transition to Net Zero - James Dickinson, Buro Happold

Buro Happold has created a strategic energy masterplan to help the University of Edinburgh achieve its ambitions of becoming net zero carbon by 2040.

The historic institution – the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world, with its origins in the 16th century – needed an overarching strategy for its approach to sustainable energy generation and efficient energy usage. It is critical that the organisation understands the best route to achieving its zero carbon goals in order to ensure the University is ready for the challenges of the 21st century and is doing its part in tackling climate change.

Our experts created a comprehensive Energy Infrastructure and Buildings Masterplan to support the University’s shift towards being more environmentally sustainable in its day-to-day operations. We examined the technical options available to the University both to shift to low carbon energy supplies and to improve the energy efficiency of its buildings and energy infrastructure. This pathway was completed in 2019.

During 2021 and 2021 Buro Happold have been progressing with a full Outline Business Case developing the designs for the buildings and energy infrastructure for two main campuses to RIBA stage 2/3 with a sub-consultant architect. This has included detailed surveys of buildings, identifying complementary benefits to energy efficiency and detailing solutions to practical challenges.

Our team is completing a 5-case model according to the Treasury Green Book including Strategic, Economic, Commercial, Financial and Management cases. Following the completion of the OBC, the University will aim to sign off the budget for the net zero strategy.

FM & Net Zero Carbon - Mark Dolling, Mitie

Achieving Net Zero Carbon via new build is relatively straightforward - new output specifications and briefs ensure that new schools will be low-energy, sustainable environments. It’s the 32,000 schools we already have in the UK that present both the biggest challenge and opportunity.

Retrofitting buildings is the future, certainly, but at present, there are extremely limited capital resources available to local authorities, MATs and other educational establishments. This, coupled with the sky-rocketing cost of energy is driving a need to utilise teaching and learning environments more efficiently, change behaviours of building users and ensure systems are operating to optimum efficiency.

Couple this with affordable and targeted capital investment to significantly reduce energy consumption and an incremental approach to delivering NZC, utilising exemplary facilities management disciplines and innovation can make a huge difference.

The first step to creating more sustainable, net zero carbon teaching & learning environments is managing what we currently have more efficiently. It is baselining current building performance and consumption, optimising systems and processes and targeting intervention. This presentation will unpack such an approach and provide practical guidance and examples of impact.


Suzanne Lloyd, Sector Director – Universities, Science and Health - Arcadis
James Dickinson, Director - Energy - Buro Happold
Mark Dolling, Group Education Director - eEnergy



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