Universities meet environmental targets with TEL’s VAV control systems

In October 2016, TEL’s Richard Eady contributed a feature to Laboratory News to discuss why considering your fume cupboards can help you meet environmental targets and save money.

At the United Nations Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally-binding global climate deal. Due to be enforced in 2020, the Paris Agreement set out an international action plan to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. While global warming negotiations continue at national and international levels, universities across the UK have their own stringent emission targets to meet. The higher education sector is leading the way in the development of environmentally sustainable laboratories, demonstrating to the laboratory industry as a whole that, by doing so, it is possible to reduce energy consumption at such a rate that the cost incurred by the necessary initial “green” investment will be quickly covered and long-term financial savings made.

The University of Reading is one of the UK universities to have taken the greatest strides in this field. Most recently, its ‘Extracting Carbon Savings from our Science Labs’ project was shortlisted in the facilities and services category of the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) 2016 Green Gown Awards. Part of the new project saw CSW Technical upgrade fume cupboards from constant air volume (CAV) to variable air volume (VAV) systems across 22 laboratories in three buildings. The company commissioned TEL to supply AFA1000 VAV controllers for installation in 68 units. The controllers automatically adjust airflow according to need, decreasing the volume of air extracted when the fume cupboard sashes are closed, maintaining a constant face velocity and therefore minimising energy consumption.

The University of Reading is not alone in its work to make its laboratories more sustainable. The University of Glasgow’s laboratory refurbishment project won the refurbished laboratory category of the S-Lab 2015 Award. The project involved the consolidation of its medicinal chemistry and chemical biology laboratories into a single 500m2 open plan laboratory. Laboratory Specialist Services Ltd installed a VAV fume cupboard system, incorporating TEL’s AFA1000/E digital airflow controllers and auto sash controllers. It is projected that the new system will use 270MWh less of energy and generate £34,000 less in associated energy costs per year than would a conventional CAV solution.

Laboratories operating outside the field of higher education may not be bound by the same stringent emission targets, but many have their own sustainability goals to reach. Whatever the industry, we should all be working towards the ultimate fulfilment of the Paris Agreement, and the experience of universities such as Reading and Glasgow demonstrates that by doing so, there are economic benefits to be gained.

TEL’s fume cupboard VAV control systems are helping organisations meet carbon reduction targets; reducing energy usage by up to 85% as well as reducing operating costs and carbon footprint. Click here to find out more about TEL’s VAV control systems.

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