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Gloucestershire College rolls out GC Zero project at Gloucester campus

19 October 2021

Gloucestershire College (GC) continues to lead the way in education by pledging to become carbon-neutral across all its campuses, in line with UK government’s commitment to improve the environment within a generation by 2050.

First launched in Cheltenham on 8 October, the net zero project now sets both GC campuses on the path towards delivering sustainable, greener future for the county and beyond by 2030 – 20 years ahead of the government’s plan.   

By pioneering GC Zero, the College aims to reduce its dependency on combustion-based fossil fuel through electrification of heat. To achieve this, ground source heat pumps will be installed following the drilling of 40 boreholes – each 200m deep - at Gloucester and Cheltenham campuses. 

The breaking-ground ceremony at Gloucester Campus united representatives from local government, business and GC’s own carpentry apprentices, to witness GC Governor and Randall & Payne LLP Partner and Head of Business Advisory, Will Abbot, switch on the drill rig to break ground in the campus car park, and start the mammoth task.

Jenny Watkins, Chief of Staff to Richard Graham MP, who spoke on his behalf said: “Local actions like these and the work here at Gloucestershire College are intrinsic to our national goals too. Projects just like this feed into the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan to accelerate the UK’s ambitions to achieve net zero by 2050.

“There are masses of green projects occurring across the county. In Gloucester, we are building the UK’s first Green Energy and Eco Park at the former landfill site, which will have solar, wind and we hope, hydrogen. GC’s move toward a carbon neutral college is more than just about buildings and as we look forward, and we hope that we can move toward greener public transport, perhaps fuelled by hydrogen produced in Gloucester, which could well be bringing pupils to college in just a few years.”

Once the heat pumps are installed, solar panels will enable the College to generate its own renewable energy, followed by battery storage and smart energy controls – for energy optimisation – as well as improvements to GC’s transport links, resources and curriculum.

The £4.8m energy retrofit for GC Zero 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, the sustainability and environmental management experts. 

Integral UK, property maintenance, technology and engineering specialists, are leading the wider project supply chain, comprising Hex Energy for the ground source heat pumps, EvoEnergy for the solar panels, Multi-Source Power for the battery technology and ABEC for the smart controls. As part of the launch ceremony, Integral UK Managing Director Yash Kapila, formally signed the contract with GC Principal and CEO Matthew Burgess.

Laura Bishop, Chartered Mechanical Engineer at Infinitas Design who has been working with Hillside on the project explained; “Hillside have been working with the College to look at all the different aspects of decarbonisation including catering and transport. But the big one, to reduce as much carbon as you can, is the way you generate power and the way you generate and consume heat. So that has been the main focus of the project.”

Matthew Burgess, GC Principal and CEO, commented: “We are the first college to take on a scheme of this size and ambition and we are very grateful to our governors for backing us, as well as our partners from Hillside Environmental Services, all the contractors involved and, of course, our staff for fully embracing the initiative.”

The GC Zero project will be running simultaneously at Cheltenham and Gloucester campuses, and building works are due to complete by spring 2022.

Sign up to the newsletter for updates, and find out more at www.gloscol.ac.uk/gc-zero

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