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GC Wins Highly Commended at Green Gown sustainability awards

9 November 2022

We're thrilled to have won the Highly Commended Green Gown Award in the 2030 Climate Action category, thanks to our industry-leading GC Zero project and commitment to driving decarbonisation in education. 

The awards are administered by The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education (EAUC) and recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by colleges and universities. With sustainability quickly moving ever higher on the agenda, the awards are established as the most prestigious recognition of best practice within the further and higher education sector. 

Judges praised GC Zero, saying: This is an excellent project focused on energy generation. The work that has been done around the scope 1&2 emissions is very commendable. The breadth and depth of the project for a small institution is outstanding. There is lots of transferable knowledge generated to benefit the whole HE and FE sectors.”   

Three years ago, we pledged to become carbon zero by 2030, which is 20 years ahead of the UK Government’s own 2050 pledge. We set to work on taking immediate action on a £5.5m retro-fit project across our Gloucester and Cheltenham campuses, which completed in July this year. 

We will reduce our carbon emissions by up to 75% in year one and by 95% in the next five years. Coupled with improvements to our transport links and food offer, we should achieve net zero status much sooner than its original goal. 

Matthew Burgess, Principal and CEO, said: "Winning this Green Gown Award for our decarbonisation project means that we can have a stronger, authenticated and long reaching voice which not only rallies for action, but also provides a practical and useful model that organisations can use to generate and tailor their own transformations.   

“We passionately want to support others to manage the inevitable challenges that embryonic projects face, and to show that bold commitment and shared ambition, coupled with tenacity and resilience, can win through." 

The significant building works covered the installation of ground source heat pumps to electrify campus heating; solar panels – 3,245 to be exact – to generate renewable electricity; and smart energy controls to optimise energy consumption. Combined, this delivers green, competitive and secure energy services that future-proofs us in support of our net zero ambitions. 

The vision was made reality thanks to £2.8m funding from Salix, alongside £2.7m invested by GC, and looks set to save the college up to £400k per year in energy bills. Sustainability consultants, Hillside Environmental Services, developed the 20-year business model and managed the project plan through to delivery. 

Russell Burton, Founder and Director of Hillside, said: "Not only has Gloucestershire College undertaken a project that has a profound carbon reduction impact, but it has also become a role model for its communities in addressing the climate emergency. It has been a pleasure to support the team with GC Zero as they move away from fossil fuels and use their powerful platform to educate others." 

GC Zero is scalable and forms a blueprint for other educational institutions looking to deliver low carbon campuses, and we, along with our project partners are working to actively promote the opportunity across the sector.  

For more information on GC Zero, click here. 


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