Technology can reduce CO2 emissions by improving timetabling and space utilisation
Higher Education (HE) institutions must take urgent action to meet Government carbon reduction targets by adopting new technology to reduce emissions. This is the advice from leading software provider Advanced Learning (Advanced) as many universities and colleges could be doing more to prioritise sustainability.
According to *research, 65% out of a total of 126 universities are expected to miss the Government’s 43% emissions reduction figure by 2020, with only 35% currently on track to meet or exceed this. Based on current projections, just over half of HE establishments will eventually achieve their designated target in five years’ time.
Space utilisation figures for the HE sector, which typically monitor the frequency and use of lecture theatres and meeting rooms, are as low as 25% in some cases due to institutions using poor energy performing buildings. **As universities receive record numbers of applications, many are constructing more buildings to accommodate an increasing student population instead of successfully managing their existing space capacity.
Greg Ford, Managing Director of Advanced Learning, comments, “The rise in tuition fees, combined with greater restrictions being imposed on international students, has understandably led to a greater focus on student satisfaction and retention. However unless universities act now, they face inevitable penalties if carbon reduction targets are not met.”
HE providers can significantly lower their environmental impact by implementing timetabling and resource management technology to create best fit timetables for individual departments for an entire academic year. Leading solutions can effectively manage thousands of bookings to ensure rooms and resources are used practically even when classes are not being held to maximise carbon efficiency savings.
Users can monitor room usage by reporting on planned attendance versus actual attendance and set parameters – such as event size or room restrictions – to cross-reference live events to eliminate the chance of double booking.
Solutions with integrated mobile functionality can further boost HE institutions’ environmental goals. The University of Surrey uses Advanced’s CMISGo to send updates to course timetables, class reschedules or room changes which appear in the calendar of the student’s native smartphone or tablet device. This has cut the circulation of approximately 260,000 documents each by eliminating the need to produce paper-based timetable packs.
Ford adds, “Universities can still make a significant impact on carbon reduction before the 2020 deadline. Timetabling and resource management systems can be implemented swiftly and record and report on vital attendance data to determine whether rooms are being appropriately utilised.
“With access to real-time information, they can easily identify poor energy performing buildings and make more informed decisions to increase their space utilisation statistics. Effective space management also provides tangible financial and efficiency benefits and ensures a fully supported student experience.”
*Research produced by Brite Green obtained from The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA
** A record number of students have been accepted on to university courses in 2015 (The Guardian)