Hexbyte Glen Cove UK university can reduce CO2 emissions by 4% with shorter winter semesters

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, reporting in the journal iScience on December 8, found that shifting learning weeks to the summer term and extending the winter vacation period can reduce the university’s yearly CO2 emissions by more than 4%.

While strategies to reduce normally require significant time and financial investment, the authors say that this kind of schedule change could offer a simple and low-cost way to reduce carbon emissions. “This approach does not really require any significant investment,” says Wei Sun, an system researcher and Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and author on the paper. “We just need willingness from staff and students to be open to the changes in semester dates.”

Sun and his colleagues monitored how more than 20 universities are currently managing their energy consumptions on campus, including their semester schedules. Then, the team looked at heat and for the University of Edinburgh, where some of them work, over the course of the year. This helped them propose the most environmentally friendly semester schedule for the university.

They found that by starting a new semester on the second week of September, followed by a 12-week winter learning semester and a 5-week winter holiday, they could reduce CO2 emissions by 167 tonnes, 4.2% of the university’s total.

“This would mean there was an extended period off during the winter period, and in turn, longer summer semesters. This could contribute to lower heating costs during the period and a decrease in emissions overall,” says Sun.

Other universities could adopt a similar approach but timings would need to vary based on where they are located, he says. “In future studies, it would be useful to adapt our approach to compare the energy consumptions of universities under different climate zones to see what impact our approach would have globally. But for UK universities, it’s clear that changing semester times could reduce emissions,” says Sun.

This study was conducted before the pandemic, and Sun and his colleagues would like to explore how hybrid learning would affect their recommendations. “In a post-pandemic world, we will be looking into other strategies to reduce emissions,” he says. “We saw a huge carbon reduction during the pandemic and now things are slowly getting back to normal, so we’d like to see if emissions continue to drop with lectures now online and less physical attendance in person.”

More information:
Wei Sun, Arranging university semester date to minimize annual CO2 emission: a UK university case study, iScience (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.103414. www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext … 2589-0042(21)01385-7

UK university can reduce CO2 emissions by 4% with shorter winter semesters (2021, December 8)
retrieved 9 December 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-12-uk-university-co2-emissions-shorter.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove 'I want to ride my bicycle!' People set to change mobility choices post-lockdown thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove ‘I want to ride my bicycle!’ People set to change mobility choices post-lockdown

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

New research suggests a significant proportion of Trinity’s staff and student population that formerly relied on public transport will now choose to walk or cycle to campus when it fully re-opens after lockdown.

Among the reasons provided for such a shift were that options in Dublin’s center were inadequate even when operating at capacity pre-COVID, and that public health guidelines are not enforced on public , raising safety concerns.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 16% of those surveyed walked and 10.4% cycled to Trinity. Once the re-opens fully, 27.3% intend to walk and 27.8% intend to cycle.

The research, which synthesized over 2,500 responses from staff and students surveyed in June and July 2020, did however also find that many people still harbor all-too familiar fears around how safe cycling and walking in Dublin is. Some of those people indicated they too would be likely to switch to walking or cycling to Trinity if there were safer options.

“Our research shows how travel to our city center campus may change as restrictions ease. One of the key findings is that as travel returns to the campus that it is likely to be done by more active modes with some reluctance to use public transport options,” said Professor Brian Caulfield, from Trinity’s School of Engineering.

“Trinity’s campus is one of the most sustainable in the world when it comes to mobility with less than 1% of staff driving to the campus each day. This research demonstrates the appetite of staff and students to embrace active modes of transport when returning to the campus and also shows the need for the plans that Dublin City Council is implementing in the city to ensure that social distancing can still take place.

“Given that there will be a significant reduction in public transport capacity for the foreseeable future it is crucial that we continue working together to promote active modes of transport. By enabling remote learning and working we can bridge this gap that the reduction in public transport capacity creates.”

Most people would like to continue working/studying from home at least some of the time

The research, just published in the journal of Case Studies on Transport Policy, also provides an interesting snapshot into the minds of a city center workforce and student body adjusting to life working and studying from home, and considering how the ‘new normal’ may affect their attitudes in the future.

The majority of staff members are keen to continue working from home at least some of the time post-lockdown (29.9% preferring to do so one or two days a week, and 60.4% preferring to do so 3+ days a week).

Although students are less keen to continue studying from home some of the time, the majority would prefer not to be on campus all the time (26.1% would prefer to study from home 3+ days a week, and 43.2% one or two days a week).

“This research emerges from a collaboration between researchers in all three Faculties within Trinity College Dublin, Healthy Trinity, and Dublin City Council,” added Sarah Bowman, Director of Strategic Engagement & Impact Assessment, and a co-author of the paper. “It’s a model of cross-sector, transdisciplinary research that seeks to provide data and analyses that encourage evidence-informed decision making.”

More information:
Brian Caulfield et al. Re-open our City and Campus post-Covid: A case study of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Case Studies on Transport Policy (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.cstp.2021.02.016

‘I want to ride my bicycle!’ People set to change mobility choices post-lockdown (2021, March 5)
retrieved 8 March 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-03-bicycle-p

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