The Rivermead campus of the Anglia Ruskin University lies at the very heart of the regeneration that Chelmsford city centre has witnessed over the past decade or so; a regeneration that included its transformation into the UK’s newest city in 2012.
Here we examine how a run-down former industrial area has evolved into the cutting-edge centre of excellence that we see today. We will also take a look at the challenges that a modern university campus faces in the 21st century by examining electricity usage at Anglia Ruskin university, along with the measures it can take to meet future demands while keeping a close control on costs.
About Anglia Ruskin University
In 1858, the well-known philanthropist, poet, architect and artist John Ruskin launched Cambridge School of Art. From this acorn has grown the Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) that we see today, yet the modern institution has not forgotten its roots. The original School of Art still lies at the nucleus of ARU’s main campus in the heart of Cambridge.
During the latter part of the 20th century, several colleges and academic institutes joined together to become what was originally known as Anglia Polytechnic, and subsequently Anglia Polytechnic University (APU), when the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 effectively phased out the distinction between polytechnics and universities.
The institutions that fell under the banner of APU included the Brentwood College of Education, the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology and the Chelmer Institute in Chelmsford (formerly the Mid-Essex Technical College). In 2005, APU has renamed Anglia Ruskin University in recognition of its Cambridge roots.
The Rivermead Campus, Chelmsford
Through its various evolutions and name changes, there has always been a further education institute of one sort or another in Chelmsford. Throughout most of the 20th century, this was centred around the former technical college between Parkway and Duke Street, but in 1992, a brand new purpose built facility, known as the Rivermead Campus, was unveiled. Three years later, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened the Queen’s Building, which is home to ARU’s impressive library.
The campus itself stands on the site that was formerly occupied by Hoffman’s, Chelmsford’s biggest and most important employers during the 20th century, with a peak workforce of 7,500, which even outnumbered that of neighbouring Marconi.
The demise of both these great names in the 1980s caused many to fear that Chelmsford would go into terminal decline, but as time has shown, nothing could be further from the truth. Present day Chelmsford is a centre of education, leisure, industry and shopping. ARU forms a major part of the changing face of this modern and successful city, but never forgets its history.
Energy Demands Of The University
A modern university campus has greater energy requirements than ever, and electricity usage at Anglia Ruskin University is significant. Not only are there the traditional needs of lighting, climate control and catering, but there are also the growing requirements dictated by extensive IT and network systems across the campus.
Add to this the needs of specialist departments in the engineering and scientific fields, and it becomes clear just how important an issue electricity supply is for the operation and financial viability of any educational establishment.
Given these energy needs, electricity is delivered to the campus via a three-phase supply. Usage across all departments and functions is closely monitored, which is unsurprising when you consider that ARU spends an eye-watering £230 every hour on energy.
Saving Energy At Chelmsford University
Like any modern organisation, ARU has documented policies, procedures and targets relating to its energy usage as part of its overall environmental policy that underpins its ISO-14001 accreditation. Its energy savings totalled almost £200,000 in 2015/16. This is undoubtedly impressive, but the corporate targets are to leverage these savings still further over the coming years.
Of course, this can only be done effectively with the active participation and buy-in of all stakeholders, including staff, faculty members and the students themselves. Many of the strategies that have led to all that ARU has achieved so far are relatively simple, and go to show the results that can be achieved when everyone does their bit. Here are some of the measures that have been adopted on a day-to-day basis:
- Switching off computers and monitors when they are not in use.
- Configuring computers to go into energy saving mode if they are inactive for 10 minutes.
- Restricting computer monitors to maximum 17”, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
- Discouraging the use of screensavers.
- Use of energy efficient equipment and appliances.
- Regular cleaning and maintenance of catering equipment.
- Documented procedures in every department and area for shutting down and switching off at the end of each day, including lighting.
- Unplugging chargers when not in use.
- Ensuring radiators and vents are not covered or blocked.
- Discouraging the use of portable heaters and fans.
- Making maximum use of natural light, with a policy of only switching lights on when needed.
- Making it easy for staff and students to report any faults.
Looking To The Future
By publicising and promulgating these policies, ARU has already seen remarkable cost savings, but with electricity prices continuing to rise every year, there is always more that can be done.
The latest technological innovations with the Internet of Things mean that smart systems are becoming ever more reliable and popular, and can bring real savings by further reducing electricity usage at Anglia Ruskin University. Systems that know how to light an environment is, and whether or not it is occupied, can implement many of the above policies with complete reliability, taking out the human error factor.
It is also important not to be too tunnel-visioned when looking at ways to make savings. For example, many universities are exploring the latest in solar technology to supplement and/or offset their power usage. With the installation requirements for solar power, it would be necessary to utilise the skills, knowledge and experience of suitable electrical contractors operating in Chelmsford to undergo such a project.
And finally, not every saving is of a high-technology nature. ARU, like any major institution, can also make savings by closely monitoring its suppliers and electricity service providers to make sure they are getting the best possible deal.