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“Because we have been working on environmental issues for some time I was surprised at how much useful practical information was new to me which I can now apply within my organization.”
Sheila Daly, University of Portsmouth
Video: Millennium Seed Bank
The Wellcome Trust Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place houses the largest wild seed collection in the world. Owned and managed by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; the Seed Bank comprises laboratories, offices, a visitor centre and an underground vault where seeds are stored at -20°C. Lead by Keith Manger, the Sustainability Team has reduced the Seed Bank’s energy consumption each year for the last three years.
The Seed Bank implement Kew’s ISO 14001 certified environmental management system. Keith explains how this has been a driver for improvement. “ISO requires that we implement a strict utility monitoring programme. This helps us track our consumption, spot anomalies and prioritise areas for action.”
One such area was the Seed Bank’s incubator units, which replicate the conditions required by seeds to germinate. Working with the manufacturer, the specially designed units were converted to reduce their power demand from 0.6 kW per hour to 0.1 kW per hour. Annual savings of 26,280 kWh, £2,117 and 14 tonnes of CO2 are expected.
Keith says staff engagement is the real key to savings. “For example, we have a building management system, allowing us to control temperatures in individual rooms. It is a fantastic tool, but would not be half as effective if not meticulously controlled by our Deputy Laboratory Manager John Adams.”
Initiated by Tom Parrot, Kew’s recently appointed Energy Manager, optimisers have been fitted to the five oil boilers serving the Seed Bank to prevent ‘dry cycling’ and voltage optimisation is being installed to stabilise incoming voltage at 220 volts, reducing electricity use by 11%.
The Seed Bank aims to run using 100% renewable energy by 2020. A 50 kW solar photovoltaic system was installed in late 2011 and is expected to generate 48,500 kWh of renewable energy per year, reducing CO2 emissions by 26 tonnes and saving around £3,900. Kew hopes to install a 500 kW woodchip boiler by the end of 2013, which will deliver 90% of the site’s heating requirement.
Keith attended a UTILISE Workshop run by the Sustainable Business Partnership and held in the mansion at Wakehurst Place in 2010. UTILISE helps businesses cut costs through reducing energy, water and waste.
Find out how your business can save money through resource efficiency. Contact the Sustainable Business Partnership today.