New era for energy reduction

New Year – New era for energy reduction at Colchester Institute

An ambitious multi-million-pound carbon reduction project will take a giant leap forward at Colchester Institute when the new technology is switched on for the first time on Friday 14th January.  

The College in Colchester has installed state-of-the-art air source heat pumps (ASHP) thanks to a £3.7m grant from the Government, as part of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS). The ASHP sourced from Arriba Tech, a UK company which builds its own heat pumps using natural refrigerants and easy to repair components. 

The grant provided by Salix Finance on behalf of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has seen the replacement of fossil fuel boilers alongside an upgrade of the two principal buildings at the Sheepen Road site. This includes the replacement of all heating infrastructure alongside the installation of double-glazed windows and additional thermal insulation throughout. 

Gary Horne, Executive Vice-Principal, at Colchester Institute, said: “Today marks a huge leap forward on our net zero journey, and we are so grateful to our funding and delivery partners for supporting the College in this way. The improvements to our main two buildings will deliver a step change to the learning experience, and with student numbers increasing due to the rising local population, this is perfect timing.” 

The current decarbonisation work taking place at the Sheepen Road campus is being undertaken by Cadman Construction, with a workforce which includes staff who were either trained at the college or who are currently attending the College. This includes 6 apprentices who have already graduated, 2 current apprentices from the College and 1 current Management trainee who is studying at the College’s University Centre. 

Joey Wright, Management Trainee with Cadman Construction said: “I have been involved with the decarbonisation project whilst studying a BSc (Hons) in Construction Management at University Centre Colchester. This is an eye-opening project as, not only am I obtaining direct knowledge on how a project like this is undertaken from my time on site, I am also going to see first-hand from a student perspective, the positive impact it will have on the College and the Environment. I am proud to be contributing to the project.” 

Fellow student Cameron Mateer, currently completing a Colchester Institute apprenticeship with Cadman Construction, and is involved with carrying out carpentry works on the project said: “It’s been great to see the works progressing, and to help the college become greener.” 

Gary Horne added: “It’s something we’ve championed over the years when we’ve put bids together. How can we put back into the local economy and how can we better support our students? This work does both with the practical experience being developed while we really benefit in terms of improved facilities.” 

Colchester Institute is the largest vocational training provider in North Essex and supports more than 8,000 further and higher education students including apprenticeship and adult learners.  

Works started in the summer of 2021 and B Block was completed before Christmas. The next stage of the project will see the decarbonisation work continue into the adjacent D Block building which currently houses the Hair and Beauty department. The College will need to ensure that students can still access important learning resources, whilst the work is taking place, including, in this phase, the Hair and Beauty salons which are open to the general public and will be relocated to enable the works to take place. 

Stuart Cadman, Cadman Construction MD said: “This is what a circular and sustainable economy is all about! We are proud to have been at the forefront of up-grading education estates for decades and systematically investing in local apprentices.” 

“It is really rewarding to now have the funding to install green technology, alongside simple energy and carbon saving upgrades. This project has been extra special working with long-term partners, Colchester Institute, in our home town – safeguarding the planet and our students’ future.” 

Kirsty Adamson, programme manager at Salix Finance, said: “It has been an absolute delight working with Colchester Institute on this decarbonisation project as they have been so enthusiastic about the transformative impact the work is having on the look, feel and greening of their buildings.” 

“The funding has significantly enhanced the students’ learning experiences, provided a better workplace for staff, helped save costs and made huge strides in helping the institution get to net zero. The grant has helped support jobs in the green construction industry and in this case, it also involves the college’s former students, which is especially gratifying. We were also pleased to see the money went to local contractors, helping to support the community’s economy.” 

As part of the College’s commitment to carbon reduction, each area of study has been tasked with creating a course module which focuses on sustainability. Bespoke tutorial sessions looking at ‘green’ issues are being introduced in this academic year. 

Alison Andreas, Principal and Chief Executive at Colchester Institute said “Back in October, the College declared a climate emergency. This landmark project is a really important statement that we are serious about carbon reduction and our role as a business, and as an educator, in the net zero challenge.” 

Salix Finance delivers government funding to the public sector to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills and is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.