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The University of Southampton

Conference showcases sustainable vision for the South East

Published: 23 November 2007

Policy makers and business leaders will outline their vision for a low carbon South East during a conference at the University of Southampton, itself a low carbon pioneer and home of the world-renowned Sustainable Energy Research Group.

The ‘Creating a Low Carbon South East’ Conference, which also incorporates the 2007 South East Low Carbon Awards, takes place on 29 and 30 November.

With the Prime Minister pledging to deliver three million new homes by 2020, this important debate will address how the low carbon solution can play a pivotal role in the expansion of the South East’s economic infrastructure to build, grow business and attract people in a complimentary way.

Over 40 speakers, from the private and public sectors, with in-depth knowledge and practical experience of low carbon development have been chosen to share their experience in this crucial field. They will address the challenging aspects of planning, construction, eco-towns, renewable energy, transport, fuels, innovation and the creation of low carbon communities. Speakers will also look at how to deliver low carbon development within organisations, and examine success stories from the South East and beyond.

Heading the list of policy makers and business leaders speaking at the conference are:

  • The Rt Hon John Denham MP, the Secretary of State for Innovation and Skills
  • Chair of the Environment Agency, Sir John Harman
  • Sir John Houghton, Co-chair of the IPCC and founder of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research
  • James Braithwaite, CBE, Chairman of the South East Economic Development Agency (SEEDA)
  • Professor AbuBakr Bahaj, Head of the Sustainable Energy Research Group at the University of Southampton.

The conference also features seminars and workshops run by successful low carbon pioneers, offering unique insights into the low carbon innovation and techniques being used in organisations throughout Europe.

The Right Honourable John Denham MP says: "Government sees the role of the development of a low carbon economy as a key aspect of enterprise and business innovation. It also has a key role to play in fighting climate change and improving social well-being for citizens, especially in areas of innovative use of energy. I welcome the opportunity that the conference in Southampton provides to assess what has been done in the area to date and what challenges we have to address in the future."

Professor AbuBakr Bahaj adds: "This a great opportunity to show the breadth of knowledge and activities related to low carbon in the South East. The most pressing need for the UK in addition to climate change will be how to bridge our electricity generation gap when nuclear power stations close.

"The University is at the forefront in research and development in aspects of renewable energy and energy efficiency in buildings. I believe the work on microgeneration technologies and the large-scale generation from marine renewables in both the wave and tidal fields, will form part of the solution."

The Sustainable Energy Research Group ( is part of the School of Civil Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton. Its activities range from theoretical investigations to experimental research into photovoltaics (PV), marine energy (tidal and wave power), microgeneration, energy comfort in the built environment and smart building technologies.

The conference is hosted by the South East Economic Development Agency (SEEDA) with the Government Office for the South East (GOSE), nPower renewables, the Environment Centre (tEC), Waltet Recycling, the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), Utilicom, Vestas, B&Q, Radian (Drum Housing), South East Sustainable Business Partnership and Sustainable Energy Partnership.

Related Staff Member

Notes for editors

  • The Environment Centre (tEC) is a charity that provides practical support to individuals, communities, local authorities and businesses wanting to reduce their environmental impact, increase the sustainability of their lifestyles and enhance their local economy. It operates in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex. It also manages a number of research projects on behalf of client organisations, including the European Union (
  • The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) is the Government funded agency set up in 1999 responsible for the economic and social development of the South East of England.
  • The Government Office for the South East (GOSE) represents central government in the South East region and its role is to promote better and more effective integration of Government policies and programs at a regional and local level.
  • The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. It is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, offering first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering. The University has around 20,000 students and over 5000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £310 million.
  • The University is committed to the principles of sustainable development by reducing energy consumption and cutting costs and carbon emissions through a number of initiatives, including:
  • Since November 2005, a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant has provided efficient electricity and heat for the University’s Highfield campus. The £3 million system reduces the University’s carbon emissions by over 2000 tonnes of CO2 a year. It reduces carbon emissions by over 20 per cent a year, and this is set to increase to 23 per cent when more buildings are connected. In the past year alone, the system has provided a net saving of £32k on heating and power costs.
  • The CHP and district heating scheme won the 2006/07 Energy Efficiency Award at the prestigious Green Gown Awards, which are run by the Higher Education Environmental Performance Improvement (HEEPI) project. At the 2005/06 Awards, the new Student Services building was highly commended for several innovative features such as photovoltaic panels on the roof of the atrium, rainwater recycling to flush the toilets and lime mortar instead of Portland cement.
  • As part of its Solar campus project, the University has three permanently grid-connected photovoltaic systems on its Highfield campus designed and serviced by the Sustainable Energy Research Group.
  • The University is a partner in Innovation in Design, Construction and Operation of Buildings for People (IDCOP), a multi institutional research programme to find new ways to improve the performance of building envelopes over the whole building life cycle.
  • The recently installed Oybike system is a street-based rental station network allowing anyone to hire and return a bicycle via a mobile phone. The system is available at key University locations so the bike doesn’t need to be returned to the original point of collection.
  • The University is part of the three-year Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC)/Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) project, with the aim of changing the buying behaviour of staff and students to take account of environmental and social factors.
  • A new concept in catering - Healthier, Ethical, Local and Organic (HELO) food is now available at all catering outlets throughout the University. Southampton is also a Fair Trade University.
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