The MRC Cancer Unit is committed to minimising the impact of our activities on the environment and being as energy efficient as possible. We have many processes in place and undertake a range of initiatives to meet this aim.
The building we are located in, the Hutchison/MRC Research Centre, has a number of features specifically designed to reduce its impact on the environment. The building is airtight to reduce energy loss, has a higher than normal insulation value, and its orientation from north to south provides high levels of natural light on the north side. The Research Centre also has an environmental policy which outlines the scope of activities that support specific environmental objectives. Below are some of the Centre's initiatives and achievements.
Demand Ventilation Control
A multi-faceted approach was undertaken to dramatically reduce environmental impact, enhance the energy saving culture, and reduce costs, crucially protecting the budget allocated for cancer research.
The building occupants and engineers embraced a creative and novel (the first in UK) technical solution. Enhancement of the Centre's environmental culture and improvement in the laboratory environment were key achievements. Installing an innovative Demand Ventilation Control system ultimately enabled the goals to be achieved with a payback of less than two years. Total gas consumption was reduced by 41% and electricity by 9%, saving more than £67,000 per annum and reducing carbon emissions by 422 tonnes per annum.
The transferability of this approach and technology can have a dramatic positive impact on the HE and other sectors.
A case study on our initiatives can be found on the University's Environment and Energy website, and has also been written about by our Research Centre Manager on the Unit blog.
Recycling polystyrene packaging
In addition to the 'normal' recycling in laboratories, which has been best practice since 2008, the Centre has successfully been processing and recycling polystyrene packaging and cold boxes (which as a biomedical research centre we receive many) using the Styromelt instrument.
This has removed the need for regular skip usage, reducing costs and environmental impact, as well as creating more space for cycle racks! An article on this appeared in the University's Greenlines newsletter.
The Demand Ventilation Control initiative resulted in the Centre being shortlisted for a 2014 S-Labs Laboratory Environmental Improvement award, and a finalist in the 2014 EAUC Green Gown Award for Technical Innovation.
The Centre also achieved Green Impact Silver and Silver Labs awards in 2014, the University's environmental accreditation scheme.