Understanding Unregulated Energy Use in University Buildings

Student thesis: Phd


Across the UK, building regulatory standards apply expectations on how buildings should perform. However, they do not always accurately resonate with actual energy consumption across many sectors, particularly the Higher Education sector. The Higher Education sector is the sole focus of this work, in part due to its significant contributions to the UK’s CO2 emissions; consequentially, all UK universities have set ambitious targets to reduce said CO2 emissions. One method of reducing CO2 emissions, so that UK universities can begin to achieve these ambitious targets, is by reducing unnecessary energy consumption within buildings. From a social, sustainable, and economic viewpoint, every university in the UK should aim to reduce its CO2 emissions. One method of reducing CO2 emissions is to target energy consumption, such as electrical consumption within buildings. By targeting unregulated energy consumption specifically, universities will achieve a potential substantial reduction in unnecessary electrical consumption. Unregulated energy, defined briefly here as energy consumption within a building that does not have to perform to a mandated requirement under building regulations, represents a substantial proportion of energy. Specific assessment methodologies, such as CIBSE TM54, aim to include this type of energy within building modelling guidelines. However, unregulated energy remains misunderstood, and little is known about the topic under the Higher Education focus. This thesis research assesses granular unregulated electrical consumption within several case study universities. Using different Energy Management Systems, floorplans, contextual discussions, and semi-structured interviews, the research quantified unregulated energy across the universities. Sub-metering data across the universities were assessed, quantified, and compared to other energy benchmarks and methodologies. The research concluded that user activities, types of equipment, operational hours and occupancy levels have a significant effect on unregulated energy consumption. Based on the research findings, a series of recommendations were produced for the universities to help reduce unnecessary unregulated electrical consumption. The primary motivator for these recommendations was to help reduce CO2 emissions and improve overall energy efficiency.
Date of Award31 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRodger Edwards (Supervisor) & Sarah Mander (Supervisor)


  • Universities
  • Unregulated energy
  • Buildings
  • Sub-metering

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