Energy & Carbon

Energy and Carbon

We believe that climate change is the single biggest threat to our planet and that we must all play a part in tackling it.

The Energy Team (that's us!) oversee the action being taken by the University to meet our HEFCE carbon reduction targets of a 43% reduction by 2020 (on a 2005 baseline). It is an ambitious challenge and we want to respond to it not out of duty, but with ambition and and with audacious determination to succeed. If the University is at the heart of what happens in the City of Sheffield, we also want to be a key player in leading the way in this important issue.

The way forward for us means we need to reduce our emissions down to 24,000 tonnes, all while continuing to expand our activity as a University. A challenging target, but one that we are convinced can be achieved through proactive Energy Efficiency (below), Behaviour Change and Self Generation.

Our Energy Strategy document outlines how we aim to achieve our targets. This strategy is an initial strategy document provided by the University's consultant Arup, and it will continue to be developed as our work progresses.

Our targets & performance

  • The carbon challenge for the University of Sheffield and the HE Sector
  • Our performance- reports

Energy Efficiency

  • Salix fund - past and present
  • Environmental Controls project -reports
  • What you can do- how to suggest improvements

Behaviour Change

  • Green Impact
  • Environmental Champions
  • FAQs and fact & figures for Mythbusting

Self-Generation (Renewables)

  • Current installations on campus (wind, solar, ground source)

Our Carbon Targets & Performance

Carbon targets

The University of Sheffield is committed to making a 43% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 (against a 2005 baseline). This is in line with HEFCE's sector-level targets.

What we spend

The University currently spends £10m on our utility bills. £6.5m of that is on electricity alone.

That equates to £190,000 per week

The Carbon Reduction Commitment adds an extra £650,000 per year

With utility prices likely to rise in coming years, and with students becoming ever more value-conscious and environmentally aware, now is a great time to reduce our energy use!

Performance - Emissions

The University's CO2 emissions would fill:

  • the Arts Tower every 18 hours
  • a hot air balloon every 70 minutes

The University's ANNUAL CO2 emissions would fill:

  • the Arts Tower 490 times
  • Royal Albert hall 217 times
  • 7,600 hot air balloons!

Where it comes from

Around 20% of our CO2 emissions came from energy use at our residences.

80% were from energy use in our non-residential buildings, the bulk of which is from electricity use. The nature of their research means that the Science and Engineering Faculties are particularly electricity-intensive. We are working closely with Faculties to reduce emissions.


Sustainable development and climate change are two sides of the same coin

Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General, United Nations

Energy Efficiency

Our energy efficiency work is focussed on 2 main strands- Salix (a "revolving" energy efficiency fund), and the Environmental Controls project (a 10-year scheme in partnership with Schneider Electric).


Achievements so far:

  • Over £1,000,000 spent on 150 successful projects including insulation, boiler replacements and lighting improvements
  • Annual savings of £560,000
  • Over 2,400t CO2 saved per year

Environmental Controls

Achievements so far:

  • Over £1,300,000 saved to date since May 2010 (aggregate savings in buildings involved)
  • Over 5,000 t CO2 saved since May 2010 *
  • Improvements in 38 buildings

What you can do

  • If you have an idea for energy saving, email
  • This could be
    - Lighting improvements (upgrades to lamps or sensors)
    - Pipework insulation
    - New energy efficienct equipment e.g. Boilers, ventilation units
    - Fume cupboard controls
  • Our Energy Engineer will see if it is eligible for Salix funding, based on a 5-year payback. If eligible, the fund covers the entire cost of the project.

How are the savings made?

Projects have included:
  •   St Georges, Hicks and Chemistry received 90 heat sensors. Various buildings received sensors, software & variable speed drives
  • In Kroto Research Institute- running chiller and air compressors more efficiently
  • In the Information Commons- improving heating controls, voltage optimisation, heat-saving revolving doors and a “free cooling” unit on the roof

Practicing what we preach

"The University of Sheffield carries out vital research into sustainability. Our scientists and engineers work in interdisciplinary ways on such crucial areas as affordable renewable energy, food security, green buildings, and new approaches to planning and sustainable policy. But we also need to practice what we preach, and our care for the future of our planet sometimes begins very close to home"

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield


We asked the University's Energy Manager Phil Riley a few questions from a lay-person point of view...

make a difference

What do you think is the biggest challenge we face as a University in terms of our carbon management in these next few years?

In a word, growth. The University of Sheffield is a very successful institution, with increases in activity, income, undergraduate and postgraduate applications and staff numbers. With this success comes expansion – particularly at the AMRC sites but also on the main campus – and a resulting increase in energy and water consumption. It is therefore proving increasingly difficult to reduce carbon emissions against this backdrop.

There are vast numbers of staff - including senior University management – who are very supportive of what we’re trying to achieve.

Phil Riley - Energy Manager

Another Carbon-management related question... You probably have to be a scientist to answer this one, but after all our carbon-reduction plans, procedures and hard work, isn't it all undone when we launch rockets off into space burning thousands of gallons of fuel each time they escape our atmosphere?

That's a biq question, but in life there are things that are important and  things that I can actually control, and in answer to your question  I can only focus on the small overlapping intersection of this particular Venn diagram!

As a University, how are we doing against other universities?

We usually measure our performance against our peers in the Russell Group - our research activity is generally responsible for huge amounts of energy, meaning it is unfair to compare us with non-research intensive institutions. In an independent analysis of our 2013-14 performance against the twenty English Russell Group we ranked eighth in terms of reduction against 2005 baseline; our emissions by £ income saw us eleventh, and we were sixth when comparing emissions against floor area.

If there was one thing you are finding really encouraging about our carbon management, what would it be?

It has to be the enthusiasm of building users. There are vast numbers of staff - including senior University management – who are very supportive of what we’re trying to achieve. This is particularly evident in the success of initiatives such as Green Impact, where each year, an increasing number of staff participate in this inter-departmental competition. Return to Engineering & Maintenance home pageStudent volunteers not only assist Green Impact teams reduce their environmental impacts, but also participate in programmes such as Student Switch Off, an energy consumption competition between student residences. This all bodes well for the future: our challenge will be to meet building users’ expectations.

The team

Steven Ward - Principal Engineer (222 9219)
Steve manages the team and contributes towards formulating University energy and environmental strategies.

Phil Riley – Energy Manager (222 9213)
Phil is responsible for identifying opportunities to improve energy and water efficiency across the University.

"One person can make a difference, and everyone should try." John F. Kennedy

Keith Barker – Energy Officer (222 9034)
Keith manages the University’s utility cost and consumption data.

Matt Godber - Energy Engineer (222 9108)
Matt identifies and implements energy saving initiatives.

Peter Webber - Energy Assistant (222 9107)
Peter's responsibilities include improving energy metering and aligning centrally-controlled HVAC systems with building occupancy.

We're here to help

Engineering & Maintenance
Estates & Facilities Management
The Arts Tower
Western Bank
Sheffield S10 2TN

Head of Engineering and Maintenance
Bill McFarlane - 0114 222 9113

Admin Support 0114 222 9102

Reception - Tel: 0114 222 9000