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The Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute was, in 2010, the 3rd most energy intensive building on the University’s operational estate. In 2010 the energy consumption of this building was around 5 million kWh of electricity and around 4 million kWh of natural gas. It was predicted that, if continuing to rise at the same rate, within 10 years the Gurdon Institute’s energy bill could be over £1 million. Being a research intensive institute a high level of energy usage is often required for core pieces of equipment and ventilation.

“A challenge we faced was that, as the Institute’s research is paramount, any environmental issues and energy reduction initiatives could not adversely affect the scientific research.”

Kathy Hilton, Building Facilities Manager at the Gurdon Institute


As one of the original ECRP pilots a number of projects and initiatives funded by the ECRP have been carried out at the institute. These include extensive behavioural change initiatives as well as some more technical building level projects.   

In early 2012 the Gurdon began promoting a behavioral change campaign to encourage building users to reduce their energy use where possible, whilst emphasising that they did not want to negatively impact upon research. With ECRP funding, sub-meters were installed and a web-based dashboard was developed. This allows for close to real time viewing of the Institute’s electricity use on a lab by lab basis.

A competition was therefore run between the labs; this challenge incentivised users to begin to switch off lights and equipment when not in use, to use timers on equipment, and to start to consider purchasing more energy efficient equipment.

In addition to these behavioural initiatives, the institute has carried out some building level changes to make it more energy efficient, for example:

  • Centralisation of the compressed air plant which supplies various labs and plant rooms
  • Replacement of electric humidifiers with gas fuel humidifiers
  • Replacement of lighting with LEDs with wireless occupancy sensors


The Gurdon Institute have to date reduced their electricity consumption by over 2 million kWh. Via the University’s Electricity Incentivisation Scheme the Gurdon have been financially rewarded  and with this money have thanked everyone at the Institute by revamping their tearoom and holding a tea party during the summer of 2014, to celebrate their first million kWh saved.

"Over the span of the initiative we have shown that it is possible to cut energy consumption by avoiding waste without being detrimental to our science."

Kathy Hilton, Building Facilities Manager, Gurdon Institute

In 2012, amongst many other awards, the Institute won a Gold Award in the Green Organisation’s Green Apple Awards.