Sustainability case studies

Improving NERC's carbon footprint

NERC will promote its sustainability achievements as part of an annual review. We will add to the case studies below as part of this process.

RRS Sir David Attenborough - Green by design

RRS Sir David AttenboroughThe UK's new polar research vessel, RRS Sir David Attenborough, is designed to meet all current and anticipated future environmental legislation. Its power generators burn very low sulfur fuel and the exhaust gases are treated to minimise nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxide. The hull is painted with a high technology coating to maximise fuel efficiency and minimise biocontamination. It has holding tanks and garbage treatment systems to avoid discharging pollutants. It has very low noise propulsion to minimise impact on sensitive marine life.

Promoting sustainable travel

Bike shed at CEHThis is no ordinary bike shed. At the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Edinburgh staff are actively encouraged to travel sustainably to work. The main bike shed was erected onsite by staff, utilising cycle racks donated to CEH after use at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It provides a visually attractive, covered bike storage area and has an integrated green roof.

Clean energy choices

Heat pumps at BGSThe George Bruce building at the new Lyell Centre, at British Geological Survey Edinburgh, has a hidden gem. Under the building is a geothermal well supplying heat to two 40kW heat pumps. These in turn supply low carbon heat to the building via an under floor heating system.

Sustainability by stealth

Cacti display at NOCSHow do you engage staff about sustainability when they are already surrounded by environmental research messages? National Oceanography Centre Southampton have created 'Sustainability by Stealth', a package of campaigns that are novel, time limited and with clear sustainability message. #beacactus is a campaign to raise staff awareness of the need to reduce water wastage. It includes signs in toilet areas, numbered A4 posters around the building, each with a different water consumption fact, and a cacti display. The key message is that cacti value their water, so should staff.

Sea water cooling reduces energy use

NOC Southampton sea water cooling heat exchangerA unique sea-water cooling system at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton uses sea water to help cool the central chiller plant for the building's air conditioning system. The water returns to the sea no more than 2°C warmer and reduces the chiller's electricity demand by c. 20% per annum.

Antarctic solar panels

Solar panels along the front of BAS Rothera buildingA four-minute shower at the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Base produces roughly the same amount of CO2 as a seven-minute shower powered by a gas boiler at home. Solar panels and a thermal storage system that replaced the old hot-water system at Rothera should save 7·5 tonnes of CO2, and around 2,000 litres of diesel each year.

To find out more or contact the NERC Sustainability Team please email