This guest blog comes courtesy of Marco Hacon, the Energy Team’s Sustainability Champion Assistant. 

This week I decided to look at an energy issue that’s a bit closer to home; what do students think about energy at King’s? Well, full transparency, I asked a small group of friends what they thought. If I’ve understood my Professor in practising social research, this means that I’ve chosen to use a convenient sampling method. Apparently, this is the worst choice and will be the least representative of the wider King’s. So take these answers with a pinch of salt. Bear in mind that this group is entirely composed of people taking a Master’s degree in Environment, Politics, and Development with most of them only having been at King’s for a few months. Here’s what we spoke about:

What do you think is the biggest consumer of energy at King’s?

A mix of answers on this one. With half of the people saying their guess would be heating and air conditioning and the other half hazarding tech. 

The real answer – a mix of both. While it’s difficult to know exactly, the energy team outlined that heating, cooling, and ventilation are likely to be the biggest source. But, to be clear, this is for specialist equipment such as MRI scanners and the pumps used to move water around the buildings and creates a comfortable environment for students and staff. Rest easy that your tuition fees aren’t being spent on secret saunas.

What do you think the mix of renewable and non-renewable energy is at King’s?

Another mix of answers here. Half think that there is a heavy weighting towards non-renewable energy, in the grounds of 70 – 90%. But, the other half had heard that a fair amount of renewable energy was used, particularly from wind farms.

The truth? A bit more nuanced (as ever). All the electricity that King’s purchases directly is from renewable sources, with the wind playing a role. But, all gas used on campus is non-renewable.

Do you think King’s should use renewable energy even if it costs more? Why?

Finally, a consensus. Yes! Apparently, people who take an environmental degree are keen on renewable energy. Who would have guessed?

The reasons? Various. 

The overwhelmingly popular reason is that as a world-recognised institution it has a responsibility to be innovative and promote these types of sustainable technologies. Also, it has a duty to represent the views and values of the students and academics through its practices. Finally, it will be more economic in the long term. 

Do you think that students should contribute to decision making with regard to energy source and consumption?

Another consensus – we’re on a roll. Yes!

Again, a few reasons. To paraphrase:

Input from students should be sought, particularly as a large number of students have expertise in this area. And, for those that don’t, it will provide a good outlet to get involved in environmental issues. Ultimately, a great way for the university to reflect the views and attitudes of the student body.

As it stands, energy is currently procured through a Power Purchase Agreement which was agreed upon by a mix of stakeholders in the university. Primarily from the Energy Risk Management Committee with input from the Energy Manager.

Photo of Marco HaconMarco Hacon is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Environment, Politics and Development here at King’s. Before this, he worked in a few start-ups and scale-up companies with social purposes, where he gained a basic understanding of sustainability. He is a strong believer in a just and equitable clean energy transition. He is excited to write about this as well as more King’s-related energy topics for the team’s blog. He also wants to help develop toolbox talks for King’s staff and teams that centre on how to use energy sustainably.