University of Leeds

Overview and challenge

The University of Leeds’ £345,000 chemistry teaching laboratory fume cupboard refurbishment project was intended to reduce energy use in the 765m2 Priestly chemistry teaching laboratory. Along with other universities, Leeds is striving to meet the Higher Education Funding Council for England target to reduce sectoral carbon emissions by 43% by 2020 (against a 2005 baseline).

The solution

TEL upgraded 63 constant airflow volume (CAV) fume cupboards to variable air volume (VAV) units. The CAV cupboards continuously sucked air out of the laboratory, replacing it with clean air even when the cupboards weren’t in use, consuming electricity, wasting money and generating carbon emissions. TEL installed a VAV control system which enabled the cupboards, when not in use, to be switched off.


TEL’s project resulted in a saving of 1,994 MWh of energy, 511 tonnes of CO2 emissions and over £81,000 in energy costs in the six months immediately after completion.

Said the University’s energy officer, Robert Douglass: “This international award is recognition of the excellent sustainability credentials of our chemistry teaching laboratory fume cupboard refurbishment project, of which TEL’s VAV conversion formed the central plank.

“The VAV conversion yielded immediate results in terms of energy consumption, carbon emissions reductions and financial savings, and will quickly pay for itself within two to three years.”

Thanks to TEL, the university’s chemistry teaching laboratory fume cupboard refurbishment project won the laboratory environmental improvement category of the S-Lab 2014 Awards, a scheme which recognises excellence in the design, operation and management of laboratories that has resulted in improved performance and enhanced sustainability and safety.

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