University of Birmingham smart campus sensors to lower emissions

Delivered in partnership with Siemens, the university says the installation will transform its Edgbaston and Dubai campuses into living laboratories

The University of Birmingham claims to be developing “the smartest university campus in the world” with the help of digital sensors, AI and renewable energy and storage technology.

The technology, provided by Siemens, will be installed on the university’s campuses in Edgbaston, southwest Birmingham and Dubai. The university described the refurbished campuses as like “living labs”, enabling staff to scrutinise energy demands and production with live data and a unique platform for research and teaching.

Starting in Autumn 2021, the university will begin the first phase of the energy efficiency project, beginning with the installation of 23,000 sensors supported by new Internet of Things technology. Sensors will track the building, estates infrastructure and on-site energy plants. Siemens are sponsoring PhD studentships at both campuses, with recipients to pursue net-zero projects co-designed by the tech company and the university.

Professor Tim Jones, provost and vice-principal of the University of Birmingham, explains the University’s ambitious vision: “Our goal is to deliver the campus of the future, using cutting-edge technologies to make our campuses in Edgbaston and Dubai the smartest globally. This will enhance our student experience, create new research and innovation opportunities, whilst significantly reducing our carbon footprint.

“As we approach COP26 in Glasgow this autumn, it is clear we are into the ‘decade of delivery’ for NetZero targets. University-Industry strategic partnerships, such as ours with Siemens, are important for helping to identify pathways for turning targets into reality.”

In a statement released alongside the Living Lab news, the university said it has “already made significant progress in making its operations more sustainable, including achieving its 2020 target of reducing carbon emissions by 20%”.

The university is one of 30 UK universities to decline to publicly publish their scope one and two emissions in the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (Hesa) Estates Management Record (EMR).

The university said it will reduce its emissions by “constantly looking to improve the environmental performance of its buildings including a reduction of 2,856 tCO2 annually, equivalent to 5% of the University’s current emissions”.


Read more: Places & spaces: October 2021

Related news: Quarter of universities ‘barely started’ net-zero planning, survey suggests

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