Universities win £11m for CO2 cutting projects

12th January 2012

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Oxford, Plymouth and Derby universities are among 27 higher education bodies named today as sharing almost £11 million to help improve their environmental impacts.

The grants from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) will finance four large retrofit projects and 24 smaller schemes to improve energy efficiency at university buildings across England, with the aim of saving thousands of tonnes of carbon.

The projects have all benefited under the second round of the HEFCE’s Revolving Green Fund, a financing project launched in 2008 to support emissions reductions across the sector, which has a target to cut CO2 output by 43% on 2005 levels by 2020.

The four large-scale projects awarded funding include: replacing all fluorescent lighting on the University of Derby’s campus with low-carbon LED lights; refitting the University of Bradford’s library to improve its energy rating from ‘E’ to ‘A’, and installing insulation, better ventilation and metering at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall House building.

Funding has also been granted to Plymouth University to create the world’s first integrated information technology and building energy management system, which will allow it to control all energy-consuming devices and systems in public or private buildings.

The HEFCE estimates these four projects alone will cut annual carbon emissions from the sector by 229,000 tonnes.

“Improving energy efficiency in the higher education sector is not all about new-build programmes. These four retrofit projects will demonstrate the significant gains to be made by improving the efficiency of existing buildings and equipment,” said Steve Egan, deputy chief executive of the HEFCE.

The bulk of the funding (£6.83 million) will, however, be distributed to 24 smaller-scale projects each receiving £70,000-£500,000 for schemes including voltage optimisation and the installation of energy-efficient equipment.

The Revolving Green Fund offers an innovative approach to public sector investment in sustainability, with £4 million of the grants awarded to projects in the second round funded from savings made as a result of projects financed in the first round.

During 2008–2011, the first phase of the fund, £30 million of funding supported 57 projects, including the construction of a biomass energy plant at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich campus.

According to an interim report in July 2010, the first round of smaller projects were already saving more than 2% of carbon emissions from English higher education institutes every year.


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