Facilities Manager Alex Black and his team have been working closely with the University's Estates Sustainability Team to plan an exciting year of new-tech trials and carbon-saving initiatives.

The School of Geography and the Environment, based at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment building

The School of Geography and the Environment’s (SoGE) Facilities Team has already kicked off 2020 with the installation of an innovative new cooling system in the IT Server Room, which will save an estimated 23tonnes of CO2 a year and shave around £7k off the annual energy bill.

The project, which has taken two-years of careful planning and collaboration with the University’s Sustainability Engineer Martin Taylor, uses fans to pump in cool air (lower than 14-16 degrees) from outside, reducing the need for air conditioning. Over winter, fans will recirculate the heat from the server room into the rest of the building, helping further reduce the department’s energy bill.

The energy saving work does not stop here. The School of Geography and the Environment will be the first University department to trial EcoSync smart heating technology. The intelligent heating technology uses data from the Planon room booking system, in-room sensors and EcoSync App to control heating in each room, via a smart radiator valve system. If the trial proves successful, Estates Services will consider rolling out this technology University-wide.

Another pioneering energy-saving project, with great potential for wider impact across the University, is the work to upgrade the Fume Hoods in the Geolabs. This pilot project, funded by Estates Sustainability Team, could save thousands of tonnes of carbon each year.

These new projects continue the excellent work of Facilities Manager, Alex Black, and the Green Impact Team over recent years, to reduce carbon and improve the sustainability of the building. From solar panel installation (which have generated over 277 Mw/h since October 2017) to going local (and pedal-powered) OxWash laundry services, the Sustainable Food Guide and swift boxes, the department is always looking for new ways to improve how it operates and become more sustainable.

"Thanks must go to the Estates Sustainability team for supporting, funding and assisting with the development of all our projects," said Alex Black. "It is our joint hope that these initiatives prove viable enough to roll out across the University Estate, enabling carbon reduction targets to be met."

Watch out for SoGE in the University’s Sustainability Showcase later this year, when the department will be going for Gold in the University’s Green Impact Awards again.