Around 95% of total energy consumption comes from electricity. The consumption of electricity is an indicator of how we are doing with regards to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In the 2022-23 academic year, HKUST consumed approximately 99 million kWh of energy, which is an increase of 4.97% compare to 2021-22 levels and it is due to the resumption of normal operation and construction of new buildings on campus. Electricity used is 94 million kWh, which is roughly 95% of total energy usage. Over the past year the projects contributing to energy savings included the retro-commissioning of the virtual stack (exhaust) fans, which allowed the large motors to run at a lower and more efficient speed without compromising safety. A new set of fresh water cooling towers was installed in 2021 to increase the overall plant efficiency and the resilience of the whole chiller plant, along with new approaches in labs and ventilation strategies.
In 2021, the University announced the new HKUST 2028 Sustainability Challenge and our energy goal is to exceed the Hong Kong Government energy target by reaching 15% reduction using the baseline year of 2014. In the coming years, we will aggressively pursue energy reduction opportunities as identified and expand renewable energy opportunities.
The main academic buildings and main chiller plant have been the major drivers of electricity consumption over the past few years, representing 70% out of the total in 2022-23.
While electricity is the largest category of energy consumption, Towngas – a combination of natural gas and naphtha – accounts for around 454,102 units (roughly equal to 6.1 million kWh). Towngas is a non-renewable source of energy and does contribute to the carbon footprint. There is no space heating provided in the main academic building, but Towngas is mainly used for cooking in the canteens and domestic hot water in residence halls and staff quarters. The remainder of the energy consumption (0.2% of the campus total) comes from liquid fuels for standby generators (stationery diesel) and transportation vehicles such as diesel and unleaded petrol.