Universities in the European Union could cut their energy usage by 40 per cent, a study funded by the European Commission has found.
It examined more than 40 case studies of innovative schemes that were not widely used and concluded that annual savings of up to €1.4 million (£858,000) per institution were achievable.
The study was financed under the Copernicus subsection of the outgoing Fifth Framework Programme for research, which focuses on introducing energy efficiency into universities and colleges, so they can become innovators in the field.
"Universities in Europe are key players in the promotion of energy efficiency. They could save energy costs of about €100 million per year if they carried out energy-saving measures," the commission said.
The latest project involved 28 universities from nine European countries and Israel and was coordinated by the Biologie, Energie, Ökologie group of the Jülich Research Centre in Germany.
It included the University of East Anglia, which launched an energy-efficiency student awareness campaign in seven residences. It is estimated that halls consume 25 per cent of the overall energy costs of UK higher and further education institutions.
The UEA set guidelines for an incentive system for the rational use of electricity. Residents would receive 25 per cent of all energy cost savings achieved through their actions, up to a maximum of €4,000, and there would be no restrictions on how the money could be spent. The remainder would be used to reduce the accommodation bills in the future.
Other institutions featured included Cardiff University, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany, and Universidad Autònoma de Madrid.