£11m distributed to cut emissions
Hefce announces second batch of Revolving Green Fund projects. David Matthews reports
Nearly £11 million in interest-free loans has been distributed to fund projects that will reduce universities' carbon emissions.
Four major projects and 24 smaller schemes will receive money in the second round of the Revolving Green Fund, distributed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
The fund is "revolving" because money saved by the institutions in energy bills is then recycled back into new projects.
The University of Exeter is one of four institutions to receive money to carry out major work, while a further two dozen institutions will be funded for smaller projects.
Paul Mucklow, deputy director for estate development services at Exeter, said that the installation of fabric improvements, metering and better ventilation in a campus building would not be possible without £1 million from the fund.
"The beauty of the Hefce funding is that it allows us to do this kind of project, not just [go for] the 'low-hanging fruit'," he said.
He added that Cornwall House, the building that will undergo the environmental improvements, was an energy-wasteful, 1960s construction of a sort "found all over the sector".
The retrofitting will save about 185 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, which is a "significant chunk for the building", Mr Mucklow said, although he acknowledged it was a small saving compared with Exeter's 21,020 tonnes of emissions in 2010.
Financially, it will take 28 years for the improvements to pay back the £1 million investment, he added.
The other major projects to win funding are at the University of Derby, which is to install LED lighting throughout its campus, the University of Bradford, which is to make improvements to its library, and Plymouth University, which is to install a cutting-edge system to control energy consumption.
A further two dozen smaller projects will receive a total of £6.8 million between them.
The first round of the fund was launched in 2008. About £20 million was invested and £4 million has been paid back by universities so far, which has been recycled into the second round.
As part of Hefce's strategy to cut the carbon emissions of the academy by 34 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels, capital funding is now linked to performance against carbon-reduction action plans.