23 September 2019 • Arie Verhoef
An energy boost: THUAS wins both first and fourth place
The Hague University of Applied Sciences wins both first and fourth place Results like this would excite any participant in a big tournament. We are talking about the final ranking in the MJA Sector Report 2018 for universities of applied sciences. The participants: all 27 universities of applied sciences. The prize: The Hague University of Applied Sciences has realised actual energy savings that are equal to the annual consumption of a large number of households. So there is every reason to be happy. But Gerard Willemse, team leader Management and Maintenance, does not allow himself to rest on his laurels.
The story goes back to 2001. That is when the universities of applied sciences, the universities and the Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM), which is now called Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK), signed the covenant “Long-term agreement on energy efficiency” (MJA-3). By signing this covenant, they committed to realising an energy efficiency of 30 percent in the period up to and including 2020. That equates to an annual saving of 2 percent.
In 2009, all universities of applied sciences signed this covenant and ever since they have each written an energy efficiency plan every four years. Among other things, this plan includes the proposed energy-saving measures which provide a return on investment within five years. There is also a watchdog in play: the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). This agency publishes a sector report every year for each sector, including universities of applied sciences.
The objectives were far exceeded
If you compare the published sector reports for universities of applied sciences, you will see that they are doing well. By the end of 2016, they had already achieved an energy efficiency of 75.6 percent. So even before the end of the period, the objective of 30 percent had already been far exceeded. To top it all off, the impressive results by The Hague University of Applied Sciences were presented in the MJA Sector Report 2018. The results surprised even Gerard Willemse.
“Yes, they surprised me too. I work on energy efficiency every day. Correcting a deviation in climate control quickly results in considerable energy savings in our large main building. “In the multi-year maintenance plan (MJOP), I have already anticipated future replacements of installations for more sustainable ones. For example, with the new air handling units, we recover 70 percent heat, whereas we only recovered 35 percent with the old units.”
How many households?
“We are looking for convenient moments to replace conventional lighting with LED lighting. Over the past few years, we have started doing this in the main building and we still have 20 percent to go. You know that it will yield good results by the time you are finished. But I never realised that this would be the most energy-saving measure among all 27 universities of applied sciences. The energy-saving measure that earned us fourth place was relocating from the Laan van Poot to the Sports Campus.”
“By replacing conventional lighting with LED lighting, we have saved 5.6 terajoules. By relocating from the Laan van Poot to the Sports Campus, we have saved 3.7 terajoules. A total of 9.3 terajoules. If you compare that amount to the average energy consumption per household in the Netherlands, then we have saved as much energy in one year as 807 households consume in one year.”
Shift up a gear
Impressive results. But are there any other areas where we could shift up a gear? Gerard: “We have made a SWOT analysis together with all universities of applied sciences. The analysis shows that we do well in the area of finance and implementation, which is reflected in the THUAS Housing Master Plan. We score lower on strategy and ambition. We formulated our WIN themes, whereas many other universities of applied sciences formulated core themes in the areas of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Naturally, this means you score a little bit higher on ambition and strategy. But we are well on track in that area as well. For example, the opening of the academic year 2019-2020 was all about the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Of course it is great to install LED lighting everywhere. And to relocate to a state-of-the-art building. But does the report say anything about improved energy efficiency as a result of the changed mentality of its users? “This question touches on the chain efficiency part of the report. All universities of applied sciences score low in that area. Chain efficiency concerns energy savings outside of university doors. How do you get to university? Do you take your bike or do you use public transport? Or do you still take the car? We see little improvement in that area.”
It is almost 2020. The third long-term agreement will soon end. What is next? Gerard: “Instead, every university of applied sciences must create its own roadmap before 1 May 2020. This is a result of the climate agreement draft which The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences wholeheartedly endorses. The road map indicates which steps must be taken in the period between 2021 and 2050 in order to achieve the objective of the climate agreement. The objective is to achieve a 95 percent CO2 reduction in 2050 as compared to 1990.”
The roadmap is yet to be created. Meanwhile, Gerard Willemse’s work continues. “The Municipality of The Hague strives to be gas-free by 2030 and energy-neutral by 2040. We have entered into a discussion with the municipality and other stakeholders about how we can contribute to this goal. In any case, it is already becoming clear that our thermal energy storage system (WKO) will play an important role in this energy transition. Because we are connected to the district heating network, we do not use the heat in our heat sources. This heat can be used for buildings in the area. That remains something for the future. For now, winning first and fourth place is a huge energy boost!