UCC Electrical & Gas Performance Academic Year 2020/21

2020/21 Energy Performance

Academic year 2020/21 saw activities and occupancy on campus increase on 2019/20 levels but still below the 2018/19 baseline period. While the University moved to a hybrid of in person and online teaching, all buildings were opened as normal to facilitate the in-person teaching.

 Table outlining summary of UCC Energy's Use 

2020/21 Electrical Performance Summary

Ventilation protocols had a significant impact on the electrical consumption, as the air-handling units had to run longer and at full fresh air, despite the reduced occupancy levels. The impact of the increases were offset by the lower occupancy levels across the University.

The largest increases were seen in the Boole Library where the energy use came in 445,000 kWh above the 2018/19 baseline. The increases were driven by the change in ventilation protocols as well as the extended opening hours of the building. The Library team continued to work with the Estates office to maximise energy conservation and had closed reading rooms from Friday evenings to Monday mornings in order to conserve energy.

The graph below shows where the electricity is consumed across UCC’s estate. The electrical consumption of each building is monitored on a weekly basis, ensuring that any slippage in our energy conservation plans within those buildings are picked up quickly and investigated. The account listed as ‘Others’ is made up of a large number of small buildings such as houses and rental properties.

Overall UCC's electrical consumption was 14% below 2018/19 levels with the majority buildings reporting a drop in energy use.

2020/21 Natural Gas Performance Summary

Used as the fuel for our heating systems, natural gas consumption is heavily influenced by the external conditions, building occupancy levels and opening times. Our main heating systems typically run from October to April while a number of systems run year-round to supply hot water and conditioned air for research areas that require close environmental control, i.e. cleanrooms. Through regression analysis and metering we are able to actively predict the gas consumption patterns of 13 buildings that account for 85% of our annual gas consumption.

The graph below shows where the majority of gas is consumed across UCC’s estate. The weekly gas consumption is compared with the predicted gas consumption, based on the external temperature and heating degree days and any unexplained increases in gas use is investigated to determine the cause and where needed, put a fix in place to prevent further energy wastage.

The changes to the ventilation strategies to reduce the risk of spreading COVID 19 resulted in our gas use increasing by 11% when compared to a baseline of 2018/19. The largest increase (1,750,000 kWh) was seen in the Main Campus district heating network which supplies steam to 7 buildings on campus. Over 2020/21 the boilers operating hours increased by 48%, largely driven by the increased opening hours of the library.


2021/22 Energy Predictions

Based on the current action plan the energy performance for the University is forecasted to increase above the 2018/19 baseline period, as tabled below. The increases are directly linked to the ventilation protocols currently in place for the University. The large ventilation and heating systems will continue to be closely managed to minimise the energy impacts of the ventilation protocols.

A number of energy saving projects are planned for 2021/22 including the commissioning of the recently installed air source heat pump in the ORB https://www.ucc.ie/en/greencampus/news/orb-heat-pump-project.html

Another critical project includes the review of the Boole heat recovery systems with the object of upgrading the ventilation equipment to allow heat recovery to occur. Other projects include ongoing change out of lighting to LED and upgrades to the building ventilation and control systems. Good ventilation continues to be used as a key mitigation tool in reducing the risk of aerosol transmission of the virus and as a result our ventilation systems are running on full fresh air for 2 hours before, during and 2 hours after the building opening times. As a result our total energy use is forecasted to increase by 30%, against a baseline of 2018/19.



ORB HEAT PUMP PROJECT | University College Cork Learn, Study and Research in UCC, Ireland's first 5 star university. Our tradition of independent thinking will prepare you for the world and the workplace in a vibrant, modern, green campus. www.ucc.ie

For further information on our energy performance, projects recently completed and planned projects or if you have any comments or suggestion please email our Energy Manager at p.mehigan@ucc.ie