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Social responsibility

Connolly Centre

A zero carbon organisation

We have ambitious plans to be a net zero carbon organisation by 2050.

Environmental issues have moved to the forefront of our planning, and feasibility studies have assessed where carbon emissions could be cut across several sites in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.

Brundtland tower bedford
Focus on Cauldwell Street campus

In 2021, we focused on the Cauldwell Street campus and steps were taken to save over 350 tonnes of carbon following major infrastructure upgrades, equivalent to driving 253 passenger vehicles for one year. The Group was successful in securing £2.8 million of grant funding from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) delivered by Salix Finance via the Department for Business, Energy and Industry 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 (PV) panels, roof insulation and water heaters at the Bedford College campus.

Connolly Centre
Connolly Centre for Modern Construction

In addition, in 2021, we opened the brand-new Connolly Centre for Modern Construction at our Cauldwell Street campus. This specialist centre is expected to receive an official A+ on its energy performance certificate and will be the Group’s first Net Zero Carbon building.

The Bedford Sixth Form campus building Bromham Road
Work at The Bedford Sixth Form

Restoring the fabric of grade 2 listed Bedford Sixth Form in Bromham Road from a victorian building into a modern, sustainable, decarbonated property suitable for delivering a 21st century education

The Bedford Sixth Form, which opened a decade ago, faced the immediate challenge of installing telecommunications to support site-wide internet connections, repairing the fabric of the building, making improvements such the modern resource centre and upgrading the leisure facilities. Now an even bolder step has been made with the help of £6.9 million in grants awarded to the Group, of which The Bedford Sixth Form is part of. The old building has undergone innovative improvements by Ashe Construction since January 2022.

The existing archaic heating system was stripped out along with old gas boilers and cast iron pipework. In their place come two giant air source source pumps  (ASHP) which will heat the whole building, supported by modern insulation methods including secondary glazing enabling leaded windows to be kept. Also kept in place were the decorative radiators in The Grand Hall which were taken off site, power-cleaned, restored and put back.