Building Sustainability Blog | Gurdon Institute saves a million kWh – and throws a party
Contact us now: Phone: +44 20 7193 8967

Gurdon Institute saves a million kWh – and throws a party


Gurdon Institute saves a million kWh – and throws a party

Since 2011 the Gurdon Institute has piloted a journey to reduce energy intensity. One million kWh of saving later, along with an accolade of awards, they are throwing a party to celebrate.


Something special has happened in the heart of the University of Cambridge. Through its Energy and Carbon Reduction Project (ECRP) and deployment of advanced energy management applications there has been a seismic shift in how energy is being used.

This is the story of how it was achieved.

The challenge

Selected as a pilot building in the University of Cambridge’s ECRP, the Gurdon Institute is a proving ground for new thinking, focusing on the implementation and evaluation of carbon reduction strategies that would feed into the University of Cambridge Carbon Management Plan target of 34% reduction by 2020 (compared to 2005 consumption).

The challenge was to focus on energy management initiatives without affecting the pioneering scientific research being conducted within the institute.

The innovation
The ECRP set out to better understand the potential for behaviours change as a key remedy for minimising energy waste. The premise was to measure the return on a behaviour project following the appointment of a community engagement manager together with localised information on actual energy consumption.

Action was taken to quickly install the necessary sub-metering and to visualise the local information on easily read dashboards.

The data was visualised through three key areas: Work-zones (lighting and small power in research laboratories & equipment rooms); Climate (heating, cooling & ventilation); and Services (computer servers, compressed air & vacuum plant).

The campaign…
The institute worked closely with Building Sustainability Ltd (BSL) to deliver projects within the three key metered areas. Here is an example of just one project that was delivered within the work-zones:

Work-zones:- Behaviour change
General building occupants have a direct impact on lighting and small power. By engaging with these groups it is possible to yield substantial savings in the work-zones.

In February 2012, the Institute embarked on a 6-month awareness campaign with the mantra ‘what can I do?’ Realising the competitive nature of the researchers, the campaign culminated in an inter-lab energy reduction competition.

Following a three-day launch exhibition, BSL developed an energy ‘dashboard’, driven through the Workplace Footprint Tracker platform, for each lab so they could view their energy saving efforts in near real time, and many labs were checking throughout the day to identify energy spikes and their source. The bespoke dashboards were then represented in a league table, displayed on a central iPad for all to see. Groups that had enthusiastic and energetic people driving energy saving initiatives made the best energy reductions.

The result?

A grand prize of £1000 being awarded to the winning lab at the Institute Annual Retreat in September 2012 and a reduction in work-zone electrical consumption by 19%.

Click here to access the full report.

The checklist
To get you started on your own journey, here is our essential checklist for conducting your very own competition:

– Launch the competition with a high-profile exhibition
– Divide working groups into competitive teams
– Gain commitment with an Energy pledge
– Provide rewards for committing to the competition and a grand prize for the winning team
– Present competing teams in league tables
– Maintain engagement with live energy ‘dashboards’
– Gauge the mood for change with a communication platform
– Offer helpful hints and support

The party
On Wednesday 29th July energy intensity levels soared. However this had nothing to do with increased electricity consumption. The Gurdon Institute threw a party in recognition of their incredible achievement.

Cue the cake, cue the tea and cue the festivities – but how many organisations are missing out on the opportunity of throwing their own one million kWh party?

The next steps
We envision one million kWh parties to be celebrated nationwide. As such, BSL want to hear about your very own energy management challenges and success stories.

For more information on this campaign or any climate or services related initiatives at the Gurdon Institute or indeed to share your own story, drop an email to Charles at BSL:

  • 30 Jul, 2014
  • Building Sustainability