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HEEPI benchmarks for student residences

by mel starrs on March 27, 2007

in Accreditation, Funding & Targets

There’s some great work coming out of HEEPI (Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement). I wrote about CEBenchbuild back in November and sustainable laboratories back in February.

They have now released some research on student residences here (.doc, 10 pages):

While the vast majority of buildings submitted were fossil fuel heated buildings, many universities still have a large number of electrically heated residences. The benchmark results indicate that the electrically heated buildings perform better overall than the fossil fuel heated buildings, and there is a smaller spread of results. One large factor for this better performance is the fact that electric heating facilitates the use of timers in student bedrooms. For example both Kings College and Queen Mary University all had electrically heated residences with electric panel heaters operated using timers. The advantages of well-insulated, electrically heated, buildings combined with timers includes:

• Popularity with students as they are able to control their own heating system;
• Popularity with residence managers, as they are easier to maintain;
• Popularity with financial directors, as they are generally cheaper to install and maintain than wet systems;
• Large energy savings because rooms are not heated while the student is out, or on holiday, and corridor heating can be eliminated, or be minimal;
• Energy savings because it avoids the common problem of students opening windows because residences are being over-heated.

On a whole life basis, electric heating may therefore be superior to fossil fuel in both cost and energy consumption in well-insulated buildings. However, this is probably not the case for CO2 emissions when electricity is supplied from conventional sources. Of course, in the future there is the possibility that universities will switch to green electricity contracts, or install their own renewable electricity supplies, to overcome this disadvantage.

I’m slightly alarmed that electric heating isn’t renounced entirely.  This passage could almost be used as ammunition in the case for electric heating, which I don’t believe is what the authors meant to do.

No mention is made of breeam:multi-residential which is the scheme which would cover student residences.

Vaguely related to the above, I’ve been reading a great blog: Aber Environment and Ethics.  It’s good to get the student’s perspective of green issues from within campus.