Marco Brunone is deputy president of London Metropolitan University Students’ Union. As a member of the Environmental Management Sustainability Team, Marco played a huge role in getting his university to install solar panels on their buildings.
That’s why we asked him a bit more about how their carbon management plan led to solar panels, and how other campuses can follow their lead on renewables.
How did you encourage your university to make this investment? What do they expect to get out of it?
The university is very proactive in reducing energy and commits a budget annually to invest in energy saving equipment, which was a big help in making a business case. We presented this to the university stating the paybacks and other benefits the PV would bring. The university then used the RE:FIT framework to procure the PV which gives a guaranteed saving on the system.
However, the system brings many other benefits the university considers more important than the payback. As it is the first renewable energy at the university it is a very exciting project, one which is being used to help raise awareness amongst staff and students on sustainability issues.
To help with this, a display screen is being installed in the Science Centre (Holloway Road) where the PV is located so anyone entering the building can see the amount of energy we are generating. We hope to link the system to coursework and as part of Green Week are arranging tours so people can see the PV.
The system we used at London Met was a relatively new system and used a click frame to install the panels rather than having to bolt it to the roof. This makes it a quick process to install the panels, they weigh less so less structural issues and no damage to the roof.
Why do you think universities should be making investments in renewable energy?
All universities have carbon targets to meet and installing renewable energy is a great way of helping meet these targets.
It is a great learning tool for students as they can see technology in work and it can be linked to courses such as analysis of the generating data, developing a web platform to show energy generation etc.
Even though the Feed in Tariffs have been cut there are still significant financial benefits PV can make. The university will be less susceptible to fluctuating energy prices and also the likely substantial rise in network and policy costs.
How can this happen on other campuses?
Get involved with your Estates department to see if there are suitable roof spaces that can be used for PV. Work with them to develop business cases to obtain funding then campaign your university for funding. Schemes that guarantee savings can be useful to get buy in.
To make sure the students' union is part of the conversation, a representative of students needs to be member of these boards. It is therefore fundamental that long lasting sustainable structures are created to ensure students are always part of these boards and groups.
Electing a student sustainability officer from the student council, creating a sustainability sabbatical or part time portfolio as well as creating a sustainability committee can all help in ensuring these long lasting structures.
Talk to us about bringing renewables to your campus.