UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE University of Cambridge - Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute Complete

Vital Efficienci worked in partnership with the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute to lower energy bills and carbon emissions and suggested, installed and monitored a range of measures which delivered well above target.

“The University of Cambridge’s Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute is a complex facility housing biomedical research, teaching and informatics facilities. We face a multitude of operational challenges that are unique to our sector and we pride ourselves on meeting these in the most efficient and ‘waste free’ manner. Our collaboration with Vital Efficienci has allowed us to apply these scientific principles to the energy management and facilities operations of the building, surpassing our expectations in the first stage of our long term Energy & Environmental strategy.”

Martin Frohock BSc Hons, BA Hons, MEI Building Services & Facilities Manager

Project Overview

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute is a complex scientific research facility. The high energy bills and carbon emissions resulting from its energy intensive equipment and stringent internal environmental conditions have been significantly reduced through a partnership with Vital Efficienci.

CRUK had been approached by several energy saving equipment suppliers, but having been unconvinced by their promises required a new approach from Vital Efficienci. The guaranteed return on investment offered by Vital Efficienci gave confidence in the accuracy of results of the project, while the simultaneous implementation of an ISO 50001 energy management system ensured a collaborative approach and lasting impact.

The Challenge

The project’s aims were to significantly reduce energy costs and carbon emissions within a one year programme, while improving occupant comfort and maintaining strict environmental conditions. Establishing a formal EMS and certifying it to ISO 50001 was a parallel objective. The targeted avoided energy cost was £33,000 and Vital Efficienci guaranteed that a minimum of £23,135 would be saved – a figure equal to the cost of the contract.

Vital Energi's Solution

Vital Efficienci firstly carried out a desktop analysis using our energy opportunity assessment tools.  The client also provided key energy data and site information which allowed us to very quickly conclude that there was significant potential for energy conservation through improved building controls. We then met with the client to understand the issues they faced in managing energy consumption at the Institute and the drivers behind their engagement with Vital Efficienci, as well as to gain a real understanding of how the building is used and operated, for example by monitoring pump speeds and valve positions. This gave us confidence that real opportunities existed, that we had sufficient information to quantify them and confirmed that focusing on the building controls would yield the strongest results.

Together we then developed the structure of the project along the lines of an energy performance contract. Vital Efficienci would provide an Intelligent Buildings Health Check (IBHC), which is an in-depth look at how the building’s controls are configured and used, to generate a schedule of energy conservation measures, of which those providing the greatest savings and operational benefits would be implemented. A one year term was agreed, with a guaranteed return. In addition it was agreed that an energy management system (EMS) compliant with ISO 50001 would be established and maintained by both parties, comprising an online documented Energy Management System (EMS) and regular energy reporting and discussions.

The IBHC identified 37 measures, of which five were agreed to be implemented immediately. The measures were based on making best use of the plant and equipment already in place at the Institute, rather than installing new equipment. For example, the low temperature hot water (LTHW) pumps were already equipped with variable speed drives, but these were not being appropriately exploited. The performance of the measures was monitored throughout the year and the savings achieved summarised in a verification report at the end of the year. The EMS was developed over the year and certified in July 2013. (The Institute also passed the first annual surveillance audit in June 2014.)


The avoided energy use in the first year of the project significantly exceeded expectations. A total avoided energy cost of £113,000 was demonstrated in the verification report, with an associated avoidance of 777 tonnes of CO2. Electricity consumption by the building’s chillers fell by 21 percent, while improved control of heating led to 1,600 MWh of gas being saved, after the slightly cooler winter was taken into account. The greatest percentage saving was by the LTHW pumps, with a 79 percent energy reduction achieved.

No negative effects on occupant comfort or environmental conditions were identified, and the frequency of maintenance activities on certain items is expected to reduce.

The confidence in the results achieved has led to further works, and the Energy Performance Contract (EPC) framework now forms the backbone of the Institute’s energy and environmental strategy and its ambitious five year objectives to improve the operation of its portfolio.

The level of communication and the quality of the working relationship with the client were essential to the success of the project, allowing the expertise of Vital Efficienci’s controls specialists and energy managers to be combined with local knowledge and enthusiasm to ensure lasting results. The commonly experienced resistance from maintenance and facilities teams was avoided by their full involvement throughout.

The use of ISO 50001 to provide a framework for monitoring the results of the project gave confidence in the identified savings, while the guarantee offered by Vital Efficienci ensured our engagement was maintained beyond the implementation of the measures. Being the first organisation in Cambridgeshire to achieve this accreditation was a significant achievement for the Institute.

We believe that the CRUK Cambridge Institute has very similar attributes to an increasing percentage of the UK’s building stock and Intelligent Energy Manager (IEM) could be replicated across a wide range of buildings, using a number of best practices in facilities management, demonstrating the palpable potential in the most complex of built environments.