Driving Green Skills

Following on from its declaration of a climate emergency in late 2021, Colchester Institute took another step forward in demonstrating its commitment to net zero this week.

The College completed the purchase of its first Electric Vehicle, a FIAT 500e, from D Salmon Cars, based opposite the Colchester Campus on Sheepen Road.

The College is investing in electric vehicle technology to power its pool car fleet that supports its outreach work across the community.  With delivery locations across Braintree, Harwich and Clacton, college staff need the capability to visit these locations as well as secondary schools across North Essex and not forgetting over 1,000 partner employers it works with across the East of England.

Natalie Hines, Director of Estates said “We took the first step in investing in our electric vehicle charging station last summer, and it was always our intention to gradually introduce electric vehicles over time. Our pool car fleet is in constant demand and by moving to zero emission technology we will reduce our impact on the environment, as well as cutting pool car maintenance and running costs.”

This is the latest in a line of sustainable initiatives that the College has introduced in the last 12 months following on from the main building decarbonisation scheme that will reduce carbon emissions by 290 tonnes annually – as a result of replacing gas fired boilers with air source heat pumps, alongside improving the fabric of two principal teaching blocks at the site.

Gary Horne, Deputy Chief Executive said “As part of our net zero action plan, we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint by 50% by 2030. To achieve this target, we need to continue to make the right investment choices and recently we commissioned a new site-wide energy survey that will allow us to prioritise our next round of initiatives including building and fabric improvements.”

So far this year the College has also planted 195 trees across its sites this year and has commenced a programme of carbon literacy to ensure all students in every area of study can make informed choices about the future.

With the shortage of new vehicles available nationally, the College was delighted that near-neighbours D Salmon cars were able to source the vehicle before the end of the summer term allowing it to be used as a demonstration model for the current year of motor vehicle students. Area Head for Automotive studies, Kevin Doo said “Electric cars are becoming ever more popular, having our first EV here at Colchester Institute will give learners studying motor vehicle maintenance the opportunity to further understand the future of the motor vehicle industry; It will complement the electric vehicle theory our learners already receive, and continue to reduce the College’s carbon emissions.”

Other exciting developments include partnering with local businesses to deliver heat pump and retrofit technology courses in the future. Gary Horne added, “Whilst we already deliver a number of courses supporting renewable technologies, we are currently working with Essex County Council colleagues to ensure we can respond fully to the challenges demanded by the Green Skills Infrastructure review for Essex.”

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

Phil O’Connor, Gary Horne, Kevin Doo and Alison Andreas