New Year – New era for energy reduction at Colchester Institute

An ambitious multi-million-pound carbon reduction project will take a giant leap forward at Colchester Institute when the new technology was switched on for the first time on Friday 14 January.   

The college in Colchester has installed state-of-the-art air source heat pumps (ASHP) thanks to a £3.7m grant from the Government, as part of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS). The ASHP sourced from Arriba Tech, a UK company which builds its own heat pumps using natural refrigerants and easy to repair components.  

The grant provided by Salix Finance on behalf of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has seen the replacement of fossil fuel boilers alongside an upgrade of the two principal buildings at the Sheepen Road site. This includes the replacement of all heating infrastructure alongside the installation of double-glazed windows and additional thermal insulation throughout.  

Gary Horne, Executive Vice-Principal, at Colchester Institute, said: “Today marks a huge leap forward on our net zero journey, and we are so grateful to our funding and delivery partners for supporting the College in this way. The improvements to our main two buildings will deliver a step change to the learning experience, and with student numbers increasing due to the rising local population, this is perfect timing.”  

The current decarbonisation work taking place at the Sheepen Road campus is being undertaken by Cadman Construction, with a workforce which includes staff who were either trained at the college or who are currently attending the college. This includes six apprentices who have already graduated, two current apprentices from the college and one current management trainee who is studying at the college’s university centre.  

Gary Horne added: “It’s something we’ve championed over the years when we’ve put bids together. How can we put back into the local economy and how can we better support our students? This work does both with the practical experience being developed while we really benefit in terms of improved facilities.”  

Works started in the summer of 2021 and B Block was completed before Christmas. The next stage of the project will see the decarbonisation work continue into the adjacent D Block building which currently houses the hair and beauty department. The college will ensure students can still access important learning, whilst the work is taking place.  

Kirsty Adamson, programme manager at Salix Finance, said: “It has been an absolute delight working with Colchester Institute on this decarbonisation project as they have been so enthusiastic about the transformative impact the work is having on the look, feel and greening of their buildings.”  

“The funding has significantly enhanced the students’ learning experiences, provided a better workplace for staff, helped save costs and made huge strides in helping the institution get to net zero. The grant has helped support jobs in the green construction industry and in this case, it also involves the college’s former students, which is especially gratifying. We were also pleased to see the money went to local contractors, helping to support the community’s economy.”  

Alison Andreas, Principal and Chief Executive at Colchester Institute said “In October, the College declared a climate emergency. This landmark project is a really important statement that we are serious about carbon reduction and our role as a business, and as an educator, in the net zero challenge.”  

Salix Finance delivers government funding to the public sector to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills and is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.