Student Switch Off

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Student Switch Off
Motto Switch off - save energy - win prizes
Formation 2006
Type Community interest company
Purpose Carbon reduction
Headquarters Kingston, London
Region served
Dr. Neil Jennings

The Student Switch Off is a campaign that aims to encourage students to save energy when living in University halls of residence.[1] It is run by the National Union of Students.

The campaign currently runs at 44 universities across the UK and 10 Universities across Europe. In the academic year 2015/16, 26,000+ students pledged their support for energy-saving in their halls of residence.

The scheme concentrates on behavioural change and social marketing to bring about carbon reduction.[2]

In May 2012 the campaign won an Ashden Award (described as the Oscars of the energy-saving world) and in March 2011 won the 'Best Energy Saving Idea' award at the inaugural People and Environment Achievement Awards.[3]


The campaign was set up by Dr Neil Jennings as a pilot project at the University of East Anglia in 2006. In the pilot year the campaign helped to reduce energy usage by an average of over 10% in halls of residence – saving around 90 tonnes of CO
and over £19,000 in energy expenditure. Neil Jennings received significant support in developing the campaign from the Ben & Jerry's Climate Change College,[4] and secured sponsorship of the campaign from E.ON, Odeon, The Independent and First.

The campaign expanded to 7 Universities in 2007/08 and 11 in 2008/09 until in 2009 the Student Switch Off partnered with the National Union of Students (United Kingdom) as part of the Defra funded Degrees Cooler project, increasing the numbers of Universities hosting the campaign by 22. Other partners included People & Planet, London Sustainability Exchange, Green Impact and Student Force for Sustainability.[5]

In 2009, the Student Switch Off was chosen by Carbon Leapfrog as one of the projects it would support with pro-bono legal and accountancy support.

In 2012 ownership of the campaign was transferred to the National Union of Students and in 2014 the campaign received funding from the EU to expand into four more European countries - Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania and Sweden.


Year Universities No. of Students Signed up  % electricity reduction Tonnes of CO2 Saved £ Saved
2006-07 1 130 10% 90 £19,000
2007-08 7 2,800 8.9% 550 £100,000+
2008-09 11 4,980 9.3% 1,295 £218,000
2009-10 33 12,052 6.9% 2,100 £337,000
2010-11 37 15,351 6.9% 1,522 £232,000
2011-12 43 19,430 5.7% 1,405 £220,000
2012-13 54 22,715 5.3% 1,478 £219,000
2013-14 54 26,812 5.9% 1,606 £261,000
2014-15 48 26,274 5.8% 1,467 £269,000
2015-16 44 26,653 6.6% 1,813 £330,000

N.B. The aggregate CO2 and £ saving is variable between years even with a similar % reduction because of changing prices of energy, changing carbon emissions per kWh of electricity and changing number of months included in the analysis at different Universities.


The Student Switch Off has picked up the following awards since its inception in 2006:

May 2012: Ashden Awards Winner [6]

March 2011: Climate Week Awards. Finalist in Best Campaign category [7]

March 2011: People and Environment Achievement Awards. Winner, Best Energy Saving Idea

June 2010: National eWell-Being Awards. Highly commended, Energy efficiency category[8]

Nov 2008: The Green Awards. Highly commended, Best Green Campaigner