Universities will soon have to display certificates declaring the carbon footprint of every major building on campus or face fines under new European Union regulations.
The legislation, which comes into effect this autumn, means that staff and students should have instant access to information about the energy efficiency of the building where they work or study.
From 1 October, all public sector occupiers of buildings over 1,000 sq m will need to post a Display Energy Certificate in a place clearly visible to the public.
This will take the form of an A3 paper certificate declaring the building's energy performance rating and the total carbon footprint of the building over the past three years.
Universities will also have to possess an advisory report outlining priorities for making the building energy efficient.
Those that fail to comply face fines of £500 for each building without a certificate and £1,000 for those without an advisory report.
Robert Cohen, technical director at the energy consultancy Energy for Sustainable Development, said: "Trading standards officers in local authorities will have responsibility for enforcing the legislation, but to some extent part of the 'policing' is likely to be done by the public, and in the case of universities, students."
According to the Carbon Trust, the rules are a fresh incentive for universities to join its Higher Education Carbon Management Programme, which helps institutions measure their CO2 output, set targets for its reduction, and assists in implementing the plan.
Since 2005, 48 universities have taken part in the ten-month scheme. The first 33 participants identified financial savings of £18 million and annual CO2 reductions totalling 128,000 tonnes.