The University of Plymouth – Cookworthy Building


The Cookworthy Building, home to the Plymouth Business School since 1994, is one of several buildings at the University of Plymouth that are benefitting from powerPerfector’s voltage optimisation.

The building has been the venue for students learning everything from business planning and financial decision making to corporate social responsibility. Using the same business acumen being taught to its students, the University responded to the drivers for energy efficiency – namely financial merit and environmental responsibility.

The Problem

With over 20,000 students Plymouth University has a large carbon footprint and, as a responsible organisation, it has been taking measures to minimise its environmental impact. The University has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030 and already meets the stringent standards of ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System).

Good environmental and social responsibility is important for universities, keen to set standards for the student population. However, because environmental legislation (such as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme) now means that the University could be financially penalised if it does not reduce its carbon emissions and energy use, there is a big financial driver for such measures too.

Our Solution

An investment case for voltage optimisation was thoroughly prepared for the University by powerPerfector. The four step assessment carried out on all projects, accurately predicts the potential payback and provides a set cost for the project.

This investment case comes in the form of a formal quote outlining the predicted energy, financial and carbon savings. As the numbers in the investment case are backed by powerPerfector’s guarantee on Return on Investment (ROI), which removes the risk attached to such an investment by the University. In short, if the University failed to meet the guaranteed Return on Investment figure, powerPerfector would reimburse them for the difference.

In this case the predicted savings were exceeded, so the guarantee did not need to be invoked. Savings of 12.4 per cent on energy savings means financial savings of £11,350 and a payback of less than two years.

The Results

Sprawling campuses full of lecture halls, research labs and accommodation can have large power requirements. The increasing use of IT and other electrical equipment means that universities are drawing more power than ever and in some cases the electrical infrastructure of each site has not been designed with this usage in mind. This means that measuring, let alone reducing energy use can be difficult.

The University of Plymouth has taken a proactive approach to energy management and in 2009 began investigating voltage optimisation as an option. Unfortunately, some of the most suitable sites and buildings did not have sub-metering.

This meant that power requirements were unknown and also that savings could not be accurately assessed. Without sufficient impartial half hourly data prior to the install it is impossible for a savings assessor to prove what the project has achieved. This means that any voltage optimisation project could underperform and the university would have no recourse to the supplier.

powerPerfector, working with EDF Energy, proposed a solution that incorporated metering into the installation. By installing fiscal grade metering six months before the installation of the VPO® units it was possible for a savings assessor to accurately measure the performance of the project against the savings guaranteed at tender.

Envirolec South West Limited successfully completed the powerPerfector installations to a high standard and during shutdown periods that limited any disruption to the normal operation of the University.

The Overview

  • 12.4% kWh Saved
  • 51,500 CO2kg Saved
  • £11,350 Saved

“When you hear about a technology that reduces energy costs and carbon and comes with such a short payback, as an academic you tend to be quite sceptical. The verification service provided by EEVS and the metering solution by EDF Energy, provided the reassurance we needed. ”

Paul Lumley, Energy and Environment Manager

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