Founded in 1583 as the Tounis College (town’s college), the University of Edinburgh in Scotland is one of the largest and most esteemed universities in the United Kingdom. The University of Edinburgh also has distinguished itself as a leader in energy and sustainability practices.Ahead of other universities in the U.K., Edinburgh launched an ‘environmental initiative’ in 1990 that evolved into a comprehensive energy and sustainability program. This program’s efforts have dramatically improved campus energy efficiency, saved money and slashed carbon dioxide emissions.
The University of Edinburgh is a perfect example of the challenges facing modern educational institutions. In the last 25 years its student population has almost trebled to well over 30,000 and it saw the number of computers connected to the university network grow from 1,000 in 1999 to more than 16,000 in 2009.
This huge growth has seen a dramatic rise in the amount of energy consumed, but through continuous investment in its energy infrastructure and campus, the university has significantly reduced their CO₂ output despite their expansion.
The most recent step to lower their energy consumption and emissions saw a new £7.8 million low carbon community heating system and private electricity network installed by Vital Energi for the University of Edinburgh Utilities Supply Company. The University of Edinburgh has a track record of investing a percentage of their annual utilities spend on energy efficiency improvements, a practice which has seen the Guardian describe their work as the country’s “quietest green revolution.”