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Towards Net Zero

Brundtland tower bedford

The Bedford College Group is expecting to save over 350 tonnes of carbon and more than £88,000 annually, following major infrastructure upgrades.


Brundtland tower bedford

Bruntland Tower

Following a feasibility study to assess where carbon emissions could be cut, The Group identified its Cauldwell Street campus as the site that would best benefit from improvements.

The Group used over £2.8m of grant funding from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) delivered by Salix Finance via the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The grant was used to install a water source heat pump (WSHP), Genius Controls, highly efficient mechanical ventilation and heat recovery, hot water-efficient taps, photovoltaic roof insulation and water heaters.

Two of the more unusual technologies used  were:

WSHP: River water-powered heating system 

For the installation of its WSHP, The Group focused on its Brundtland Building which had a licence to take water from the river to power its heating system – the licence permits the extraction of 240,000,000-litres of water a year enabling the college to replace old boilers and decarbonise the building.

Patricia Jones, Executive Director of Finance at Bedford College said: “We are fortunate to have the River Great Ouse flow by our Cauldwell Street campus, it is through the use of this new renewable heating system that we can save 96 tonnes of carbon, that is a tremendous start to our decarbonisation journey.’

The WSHP is set to save £3,978 annually.


Genius Controls to manage heating systems across all the sites

Due to the layout of the Cauldwell Street campus many buildings are south facing and become extremely hot on one side, so The Group also looked at improving the comfort of its staff and students.  It installed Genius Controls which operate similar to movement sensors.

Pat Jones explained: “If there is movement in the room, the controls detect that they need to heat the room. If not, the controls reduce the level of heat within the room to a very moderate temperature.”

These Genius Controls are expected to save the college just under 80 tonnes of carbon and £13,913 annually.

As many of the solutions were centred on the Brundtland Building on Cauldwell Street Campus, energy calculations indicate that this building will receive an A+ on its energy performance certificate making this The Group’s first Net Zero Carbon Building.

Pat Jones added: “This year The Group will launch its Social Responsibility Strategy. Staff and students will be invited to participate in the many aspects of this strategy including the plan to decarbonise our ‘built environment’. This falls in line with the Government’s mission of reaching Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“The pandemic has crystallised the Net Zero issue for us. Receiving the funding has accelerated our ambition to spread this activity across our other campuses.

“We have some incredibly passionate people here, who are looking at this from many aspects. It will be good to see our staff and students helping to shape our strategy.”

The Bedford College Group has a history of leading the way in the Further Education sector when it comes to sustainable activities. The shining tall Brundtland Building, in Cauldwell Street, was in 2012, the UK’s first BREEAM “Excellent”  award-winning example of “retro” fitting an old education building with modern technology. The environment was an example of sustainable building and energy techniques which were an inspiration to trainees in the construction industry.


Justin Morris, Programme Coordinator for Colleges and Universities at Salix, said: “Working with The Bedford College Group has been an immense pleasure. I was truly impressed by their levels of enthusiasm and determination to orchestrate and deliver these innovative projects in such a tight timeline. Their passion to improve The Group’s carbon and financial savings through these projects was evident.”


*About the PSDS scheme

The BEIS scheme, delivered by Salix Finance and which opened in September 2020, has provided £1bn worth of grant funding for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation measures across the public sector, central government departments and non-departmental public bodies. The finance was targeted at non-domestic buildings in England to support the delivery of green investment initiatives to deliver significant carbon and financial savings in the public sector and stimulate the economy.

A separate Low Carbon Skills Fund (LCSF) was also launched on the side to enable Public Sector Institutions to undertake feasibility studies and identify decarbonisation projects.

Higher Education Institutions like Bedford College are currently utilising their funding and delivering their projects, aiming for completion by the end of 2021.

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