Gloucestershire College leads county change towards a sustainable future through GC Zero
An ambitious project that aims to drive decarbonisation and deliver net zero campuses by 2030 launched in Cheltenham last week.
On Friday 8 October, Gloucestershire College (GC) welcomed guests from the government, environmental organisations and local businesses to its Cheltenham campus to unveil a ground-breaking project to combat climate change.
GC Zero supports GC’s pledge to become carbon zero by 2030 – 20 years ahead of the UK Government’s commitment to 2050 – and long term aims to improve our environment within a generation.
The £4.8m energy retrofit is possible thanks to a £2.8m grant secured through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, via Salix, and a strong partnership with Hillside Environmental Services, a specialist group of sustainability and environmental management experts.
The launch ceremony made a big noise – quite literally – as MP Alex Chalk and GC Principal, Matthew Burgess, started the drill rig to break ground at Cheltenham campus. The College’s new group of T Level construction students joined the ceremony to learn more about GC Zero and how sustainability can improve business facilities.
Alex Chalk commented: “Decisive action to drive down carbon emissions is essential if we are to curb global warming and meet our legal targets. I congratulate Gloucestershire College on the focus they have given to this priority, and I am delighted that the Government has contributed £2.8m to support this important ground source heat pump project.”
By December 2021, this complex piece of machinery will deliver the first milestone for the College: drilling 40 boreholes - each 200m deep - to install heat pumps that will harness natural heat from the earth and provide a source of renewable energy for the Cheltenham campus thus minimising its dependency on combustion-based fossil fuels.
“It takes the equivalent of 13 million kettles being boiled to run our Gloucester campus every single day. Becoming carbon-zero is the biggest and most important goal we can have.” – says Matthew Burgess, GC Principal. “Within less than 10 years all our campuses will be match fit for carbon zero; in the meantime, we will continue to engage and educate our staff, students and the wider community on the importance of acting now for climate change, and how we can all work together to help save our planet.”
Russel Burton, Founder of Hillside Environmental Services added: “Colleges hold a unique and powerful platform in their communities. Our experience suggests that students, staff, employers and business partners are all looking for help and support to understand what can be done to combat climate change. The project that Gloucestershire College has embarked upon today is a deep and meaningful move away from fossil fuels and a beacon for its communities to follow in addressing the climate emergency.”
Once the ground source heat pumps are installed, the next steps are to install solar panels at both campuses to enable the College to generate its own renewable energy, followed by battery storage and smart energy controls, as well as improvements to GC’s transport links, resources and curriculum.
The GC Zero project will be running simultaneously at Cheltenham and Gloucester campuses and building works are due to complete by spring 2022.
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