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Monday, 6 April

Learning How to Unite in Building Improvements

The Unite Students Group, a provider of 50,000 student accommodation units, in more than 140 properties, has joined forces with Heathrow, Carillion, Royal Bank of Scotland, University of Cambridge and Lancaster University to 'crowdsource' innovations that target efficiency challenges in energy, water, waste and health & wellbeing across those buildings.

The 'Innovation Gateway Alliance' enables all those involved to contribute to reducing the costs and environmental impacts of buildings and allow them to benefit from the exchange of learning and experience across sectors.

James Tiernan, Group Energy and Environment Manager for Unite Students (uS), explained: “Our new ‘Up to uS’ responsible business plan is intended to build on the work we have already done with a commitment to deliver science based carbon reduction via our energy efficiency programmes. We anticipate that joining forces with other companies in the Innovation Gateway will provide an opportunity to help ensure we have the energy, water, waste, productivity and wellbeing measures we need.”

He continued: “We see the Innovation Gateway as being a force-multiplier for our energy and environment team, helping uS to maximise impact by accelerating the identification and validation of new initiatives and making sure we adopt the best solutions for our properties across the UK.”

Allan Wickham, Head of Workplace Specialist Services at RBS, said: “Unite Students joining the Innovation Gateway will increase the opportunities for innovators and small businesses to test their ideas in the marketplace and with new industries. I am really pleased to see the Innovation Gateway grow. Increasing collaboration across organisations creates an environment where we can share ideas and work together to drive more resource efficient businesses.”

So far, the alliance has sourced over 640 buildings related innovations, with half now coming from outside the UK. Around 40 of these are currently under trial in the Partners’ buildings and these will lead to very significant reductions in cost and environmental impact. RBS alone have estimated annual operational savings of £7.5 million, 200,000 m3 of water and 40,000 tonnes of CO2.

Tim Trace, Utilities Performance Manager at Heathrow, said: “Unite Students’ involvement will bolster the Innovation Gateway and accelerate its ambition to diversify, creating new opportunities for innovators and taking a lead towards more efficient and sustainable utilities’ management.”

Euan Burns, Chief Engineer at Carillion, said: “Unite Students has a diverse property portfolio and will significantly enhance the impact the Innovation Gateway can have on the built environment. SMEs will benefit through an ever increasing group of partners and the interesting challenges we will set for them.”

In 2017, the Innovation Gateway alliance will grow by joining forces with more partners from different industries, and its next call for innovation starts at the end of February 2017

Article written by Robin Snow

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