Lancaster University

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Eco-Residences Win Green Gown Award 2009

07/01/2009 11:30:41

Kate Humble with (3rd and 2nd from right) Jonathan Mills and Director of Facilities Mark Swindlehurst
Kate Humble next to Michael Payne, LUSU President with (3rd and 2nd from right) Jonathan Mills and Director of Facilities Mark Swindlehurst

Lancaster University’s Eco-Residences have been awarded a Green Gown award which recognises exceptional initiatives by higher education institutions to become more sustainable. The award, in the Residences category, was made by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), which praises the new build student housing at Grizedale and County for delivering high levels of environmental performance at an affordable cost.

The winners of the 2009 Green Gown Awards were announced at a gala banquet at Imperial College London hosted by TV presenter Kate Humble. Other guests included David Lammy MP, Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property, and Baroness Warwick, Chief Executive of Universities UK.

Lancaster’s Environment & Sustainability Manager Jonathan Mills said:”A Green Gown award is a fantastic vindication of the radical approach of Lancaster University in building the Eco-Residences. It gives us formal acknowledgement of the innovative, sustainable construction techniques and inclusive approach to student input.”

The judges were impressed with the holistic approach taken, which included addressing the full carbon footprint of the construction process. They particularly liked the interaction with the students and passing on the benefit of lower costs to them through a carbon reduction competition. The competition is run each term by GreenLancaster which was formed from a partnership between LUSU, Estate Management and property provider UPP. Utility data from each townhouse is sent to the GreenLancaster website where residents can view their carbon footprint and check who is winning.

The winners from County College
The winners from County College

The success of the competition means it is now a termly event with this summer’s winners announced at the GreenLancaster Festival on campus. The winners were Germander townhouse in County College with a carbon footprint of only 810.7kg and Sawrey townhouse in Grizedale College with a carbon footprint of 852.9Kg, both of which earned the residents of the townhouses £600 first prizes.

Student Rachel White from County said: “We switched off the TV at the mains and only half-filled the kettle and filled up the washing up bowl instead of running the tap. If we spotted anyone who left lights on, we told them so it was a team effort.”

And student Chris Eachus from Grizedale said: “If someone went away for the weekend, we’d turn everything off at the mains and not leave anything on standby. We also cooked together which used less energy.”

Jonathan Mills said: “I’m very impressed with this massive reduction in carbon emissions which residents of the townhouses can achieve. The carbon competition is making a huge difference to energy and utility usage, and the cash prize for the students who win even covers the cost of their utility bills for that term, so it’s a win-win situation.”

The Eco-residences at Grizedale and County were designed and constructed to achieve lower CO2 emission rates than required by Building Regulations. With green features such as heat recovery ventilation and sustainably sourced timber, they are performing even better than expected.

They showed a reduction in carbon emissions of 11.3% (or 16 tonnes CO2) for January-April 2009 compared with the same period last year, when there was no carbon contest. Carbon emissions per person per day also dropped from 3.54kg in 2008 to 3.14kg in 2009.

Reductions in CO2 emissions of 19.4% (townhouses) and 17.6% (cluster flats) were projected against the Target Emission Rate required by Building Regulations. However utility usage data shows that for the whole of 2008 the County townhouses carbon emissions were 29.7% below the Target Emission Rate and 16% below the design criteria, with annual emissions of 963kg CO2/annum/student against design criteria which predicted emissions of 1,147kg CO2/annum/student).