Energy and buildings

Energy and buildings - Climate Action StrategyBuildings set the scene for our daily studying and working at the university. More than we realize, their quality influences how we feel, they are our environment. At this moment, emissions from energy use are the second largest contributor to UAntwerp’s climate impact, after transport. Most of the footprint of direct energy use comes from the burning of natural gas on campus sites. Electricity has a slightly smaller contribution.

UAntwerp patrimonium is very diverse, from old heritage to new buildings meeting high-level standards. Our buildings vary also in the intensity of use, in comfort, and in energy needs. This diversity reveals a large scope for possible actions, quick wins as well as structural, long-term energy planning.

The core challenge for this domain is developing a sound and forward looking strategy for the UAntwerp building stock to be energy neutral by 2050.

The three pillars of this buildings strategy are:

  1. Attaining a high degree of cost-effective energy efficiency.
  2. Installing the necessary equipment for harvesting energy from renewable resources.
  3. Phase out the use of fossil fuels. Given the long lifespan of buildings, our decisions today are already affecting the trajectory of the pathway to energy neutral buildings by 2050. Representing our most important capital stock, this domain is a budgetary priority in the UAntwerp climate strategy.

Goals

  • 2030: Climate neutrality - emissions from fossil fuel use in buildings are compensated at the determined rate. UAntwerp decides how to allocate these funds between external projects that capture CO2 (e.g. reforestation) and own investments in energy neutral buildings.
  • 2050: All fossil fuel use for heating UAntwerp patrimonium is phased out.

Priority action points

  • Choose an electricity provider with a “green” mark (>15/20) in the ranking at mijngroenestroom.be.
     
  • Carrying out an encompassing assessment of energy condition and space usage for all UAntwerp buildings.
     
  • Based on the results, build a patrimonial catalogue that contains detailed and easily accessible information per building on:
    • General Theoretical energy prestation / requirements of the building.
    • A comparison between this theoretical energy use and the actual energy use.
    • An assessment of the space usage of the different rooms/parts of the building.
    • Potential (short term) interventions to increase energy efficiency – both low-hanging fruit and possible behavioural adjustments.
    • Broad contours of the long-term renovation strategy of the university (incl. budgetary estimates).
  • For this last component, a collaboration is set up with the engineering department, to develop a method for prioritising between renovations, as well as a forecasting method for the renovation trajectory up until 2050.
     
  • Establishing UAntwerp’s energy renovation fund, to which (part of) the savings can flow from decreased energy use after renovation, enabling further investment in energy efficiency.
     
  • Initiating the collaboration with third parties for investments in on-site renewable energy generation (wind and solar).
     
  • For new developments started up, taking along from the start: the goal of energy neutrality by 2050 as well as the gradual implementation of elements from circular material use in the construction and operation of the building.
     
  • Developing of an integrated and positive, mobilizing communication strategy on the energy policy of the university, the advancements made, the challenges on which we work, and the role of the buildings’ users in all of this .

Challenges

Key challenges to the development of building a renovation strategy and living up to the goals it set out, are the long-term timescale on which it operates, which – inevitably – brings along a degree of uncertainty about future financial conditions and the pace of technological progress. The renovation strategy will have to be flexible to be able to incorporate adjustments to these developments .