UHI partners underline their commitment to reduce carbon emissions

Inverness College UHI, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, NAFC Marine Centre UHI and the University of the Highlands and Islands executive office have graduated from the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Management Programme at an official ceremony in Edinburgh. They were among 37 public and third sector organisations in Scotland to complete the 2011 programme, demonstrating their commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

The programme, which began in 2003, has seen over 130 public sector organisations develop an energy saving carbon management plan. The benefits can be significant; the first 50 organisations that prepared a plan have reduced their carbon emissions by over 350,000 tCO₂, with associated energy bill reductions in excess of £35 million.

John Swinney MSP, cabinet secretary for finance, employment and sustainable growth, commented: “I would like to congratulate the latest group of organisations to graduate from the Carbon Management Programme.

"This programme is playing a vital role in helping to realise the Scottish Government’s energy efficiency and climate change priorities. It is helping our sectors to act as exemplars on low carbon behaviour, which will be vital if we are to show leadership to other parts of society and address the emissions reduction targets in our Climate Change (Scotland) Act.”

The Carbon Management Programme is designed to help organisations develop a framework to deliver energy saving and carbon reduction practices. The programme aims to improve the management of buildings energy use, vehicle fleets, street lighting and recycling of waste. It is supported by a toolkit and facilitates the sharing of best practice, enabling participant organisations to learn from each other’s experience.

Paul Wedgwood, manager, Carbon Trust Scotland, said: “The dedication shown by the 2011 public sector cohort has been second to none. The organisations involved have recognised the need to take action on climate change and make energy savings, particularly at this fiscally challenging time. They are planning to make significant changes to reduce their carbon emissions and, as a consequence, energy spend.

Niall McArthur, director of corporate services at Inverness College UHI, said: “We are firstly aiming to reduce the college's impact on the environment and plan to reduce our carbon footprint. We also want to raise awareness of carbon management within the college, for both staff and students, and to embed sustainability in the college curriculum. We are looking to reduce our carbon footprint by 20 per cent by 2015, which will equate to savings of around £96,000.

“Initiatives already underway include a programme of light replacement to more energy efficient lights, the virtualisation of our bank of servers, which gives us greater energy efficiency and improves our business continuity, and improvements to our heating controls and our building management system leading to more efficient use of our boilers. Further projects in the pipeline are to put in place effective travel plans for our staff with the aim of reducing travel costs by 10 per cent each year and to rationalise the use of our printers; which will mean a reduction in energy usage, as well as toner cartridges and paper.”

Donald A. MacLennan, head of estates and services at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI said: “Reducing our carbon emissions is a natural follow-on to recent initiatives undertaken by the college which have included the installation of a 500kw biomass woodchip boiler and a compost recycling scheme. Our carbon management plan has at its heart a carbon reduction awareness campaign among college students and staff; a focus on reducing electricity consumption within the older part of the college estate and improving the operating efficiencies of our biomass boiler. We are also going to conduct a detailed energy audit of all our buildings with anticipated enhancements to include low-energy and motion sensitive lighting and the installation of a solar thermal system.

“As well as the targeted year-on-year reductions of five per cent to the college's carbon emissions, we will also actively engage with our student and staff community to implement additional carbon saving measures. This will include research into a car-sharing scheme and a review of our travel expenses and reimbursement policy. The college is hopeful of achieving savings in the region of £160,000 by the end of 2014 which will represent a 20 per cent reduction in its benchmark 2009 carbon emissions.”

Professor David Gray, director, NAFC Marine Centre UHI, commented: “As a deliverer of education and training, we should be an exemplar of good practice in carbon reduction and addressing our environmental impact is also part of our five year strategic plan. The Carbon Management Programme has helped us take both of these in hand. Our main target is a reduction in our carbon emissions by 20 per cent and we are confident that the measures we’ll put in place will achieve that. The NAFC Marine Centre UHI is fully committed to our Carbon Management plan, which will be monitored by our Health, Safety and Environment forum that reports directly to the Senior Management team ensuring full buy-in at all levels.”

Tim Skyrme, facilities manager and project leader at the University of the Highlands and Islands executive office, said: “The Carbon Management Programme is consistent with the university’s mission and, as well as providing savings through efficiencies and the improved use of resources, will help to meet the wider objectives of the Climate Change Scotland Act. Participation in the programme and the production of our carbon management plan will also assist in fulfilling the commitment we have already made under the Universities and Colleges Climate Commitment for Scotland. A carbon management team has been set up to manage and drive forward the plan and a timetable has been set up for its implementation. In addition, the intention is to embed carbon management into the day-to-day activities of the university over the next five years.”