KCL Green Labs Case Study – Savawatt Installation
Martin Farley, Sustainable Laboratories Project Coordinator

Continuing on the commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 43% from 2005-06 levels by 2020, Kings College London has targeted its cold storage in research spaces as a method of achieving this goal. Research spaces can consume ~5 times more energy per square metre than academic spaces, and part of this is largely due to the substantial quantity of fridges and freezers that fill laboratories.

Envision Concepts has developed a patented, Salix approved device called a savacontrol which can match motor needs to energy output in any equipment with a compressor (ie fridges and freezers, though for this project we did not include ULT freezers), and in doing so achieve energy savings. They are easily installed at the plug-level and can endure for 10+ years.

Previously Kings College London had already organised an installation of such devices where appropriate (buildings with higher voltages, above ~230 volts) with some success. Fridges with the devices attached showed ~14% reductions in energy consumption. This year the goal was to complete a wide-spread installation to target particularly areas in the Guys Hospital and Denmark Hill campus.

Savawatt Products Installed
The project was a success as a large installation tallying approximately £38,000 was organised and managed by the Sustainability department with an estimated 2.4 year payback period. 584 refrigerators, -20C° freezers, and walk-in cold rooms had devices fitted (mostly fridges and freezers) throughout research spaces, as well as one sports facility.

To improve payback, areas with particularly high voltages were targeted (for e.g. some areas surveyed were found to be running at 246 volts!). The project was not without its barriers. Of particular difficulty was managing the installation during the opening of the new Wohl Institute as many of the fridges/freezers initially surveyed were moved to this new space.

The Wohl Institute was not appropriate though for savawatt installation as it did not have a voltage high enough to give a good payback. There were no reported break downs or equipment failures associated with the installation, although it did highlight issues with one cold-room these were pre-existing. To avoid researchers removing the devices, they were closely consulted about the installation. To avoid waste of a savawatt device, they were fitted where possible with stickers with contact information to the sustainability department to ensure that if the fridge was replaced, a suitable replacement could be fitted.

Currently, this remains an easy and tested method to achieve energy savings in research and cooking spaces where fridges and freezers are common. With an estimated ~£15,000 saved annually in energy and a 10+ lifespan of savawatt devices, we hope to incur significant energy savings.