U U U - Understanding Unregulated Energy (usage) in University Buildings

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng


PEnergy consumption within buildings for purposes of heating, cooling and lighting is regulated in that constraints are put on these uses by the English Building Regulations. Taken together, these are referred to as regulated energy use.
There is however a significant amount of energy consumption that does not fall into this category. This is referred to as unregulated energy use, at can be a large part of the total energy consumption.
In comparison with regulated energy, very little is known about unregulated usage patterns and quantities.
The university sector has a great diversity of space usage which makes the understanding of unregulated energy usage particularly challenging
The objectives of this project are :
To develop a detailed understanding of unregulated energy usage in university buildings and room types, based upon extensive evaluation of data gathered in case study room types and buildings.
To clarify the key parameters that affect unregulated energy use such as room function/type, equipment types and density, occupation profiles and energy control techniques
To provide predictions of unregulated energy use in response to key parameters
The project outputs are of potential interest across the HE sector and will lead to improved energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions


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Birch C (2019) Assessing unregulated electricity consumption in a case study university in Building Services Engineering Research and Technology

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/P510579/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1961485 Studentship EP/P510579/1 08/09/2017 30/09/2021 Christina Birch
Description The project analysed electrical consumption in different buildings across different universities, with particular focus placed on laboratory buildings. The main researcher collected half hourly electricity data from four universities, using either historical datasets or live energy management system software. In addition to combining this data with floorplan measurements, the main researcher also collected contextual information by corresponding with building managers.

The main significant achievements, so far, for this research include:
• The creation of some specific benchmarks for different types of rooms, e.g. biological labs, engineering labs, catering facilities etc. Compared to previous benchmarking schemes (e.g. the CIBSE Guide F benchmarks), university spaces are currently consuming massive amounts of electricity, particularly in laboratory spaces. The newer benchmarks also suggest that other spaces, such as lecture rooms and office buildings, are consuming more than the typical benchmarking range.
• A breakdown of electrical consumption across different years in a variety of buildings. This allowed the researcher to understand how the spaces were being used, and presented findings which indicated that holiday-time (in relation to term-time) consumption was much higher than initially predicted. Consumption on Saturdays was also quite substantial, in comparison to consumption on Sundays. This suggested that predominantly universities are not switching-off laboratory equipment sufficiently, and that occupation / usage of these rooms is likely higher than predicted by the Universities Estates.

In relation to the award objectives, the findings have helped to ensure that some of the key award objectives have been met. It has helped to populate the current literature, which is currently quite limited for both universities and the Higher Education Sector. It has also uncovered further understandings of usages of laboratory spaces across different universities, which all follow different patterns in consumption.

For future research, the researcher has gathered a list of contextual questions that requires further correspondence with building managers and technical staff, for example - if on a certain day there is a massive spike in consumption in a specific lab, what could have caused this peak?
Exploitation Route The outcomes of this funding can be taken forward by University Estates, as a benchmarking guide of what electrical consumption can look like across different universities. The suggestions made to the key universities will be anonymised for wider usage, but will still outline any key findings which are generally useful to multiple universities.
Sectors Education,Energy

Description As this research is focused on analysing electrical consumption within universities, part of the aim of the research is to provide Estates with suggestions on ways to reduce electrical consumption in specific buildings. This is from both a sustainability perspective and an economic perspective, as the reduction in electrical consumption will create some cost savings in the specific buildings analysed. The main focus for the research is based on laboratory spaces, which at present typically consume massive amounts of both electricity and gas. By providing the Estates with a list of suggested ways to reduce the electrical consumption, the amount of cost savings should rise significantly. As mentioned above, part of the justification for the research is to reduce consumption for sustainability reasons, which is highlighted as the main societal impact for this research. The four main universities studied all vary considerably, including the analysed building stock. All universities within the UK are aiming to reduce their CO2 emissions, and the researcher highlights that one method of doing this is to reduce consumption within buildings. This is linked in to the list of suggestions for the universities. For both the economic and societal impacts, these mainly have a public sector focus as this research is focused solely on university buildings. The potential challenges that require overcoming are to ensure the suggestions are completely fair and necessary - e.g. certain laboratory spaces may be running as efficiently as possible as equipment needs to be left on 24/7, yet may still consume massive amount of electricity across the year.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Education,Energy
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description Submission to BEIS Inquiry on Energy Efficiency in Buildings
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmbeis/1730/173002.htm
Description Data collection - The University of Sheffield 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The main researcher has been in frequent correspondence with this particular university, in order to gather specific room-level data for one of the University's buildings. Data provided by tis organisation is currently being assessed by the main researcher.
Collaborator Contribution The partner have provided some room-level data from one specific building, have invited the research team multiple times to inspect the building and have promised future data streams (e.g. occupancy data, floorplan data). There have also been talks about constructing a future PDRA position for the main researcher (on completion of the PhD), in collaboration with this partner.
Impact At present and with the data available, the main researcher has assessed half-hourly electrical consumption patterns within two specific rooms. Future outcomes from the research will include specific readings from laboratory equipment, analysis of half-hourly data and suggestions on how UoS may reduce the consumption within these specific rooms.
Start Year 2019
Description Annual research group discussions 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The main researcher is based within the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change reserach - Manchester branch. Every year, the group meets with the other Tyndall centres branches, as a way to disseminate information, and each year a public engagement event is held (related to the topic of climate change). The main researcher has presented their work during the last two events; during the last event, a representative from the University of East Anglia showed interest in the researcher's work, so a collaboration has been set-up between UEA and the researcher.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
Description Cardiff cluster visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The researcher attended a Cardiff cluster visit for two days - this event allowed the researcher to promote their work to their wider research group, and during this event the main researcher also did a presentation to disseminate information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Coventry workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Name of the workshop - Investigation of the Impact of Occupant Behavior
Different researchers from the UK and China met to discuss different reserach questions related to occpant behaviours in buildings. The main reseracher presented during this workshop and networked with indiviuals from both the UK and China.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019