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Edinburgh College takes leap towards net zero

A new heat decarbonisation project aims to propel Edinburgh College’s ambition to be at the “cutting edge of environmental sustainability” within the further education sector and to dramatically reduce its carbon emissions by 2030.

With over 27,000 students, staff and specialist engineering equipment across the four campuses, the College has similar energy requirements to a small town, so needed a radical approach to accelerate its net zero journey.

The College will be working with Vital Energi to decarbonise its entire heating infrastructure within Midlothian Campus, removing the existing fossil fuel system and replacing it with the latest renewable heating technology. When complete, the project will be responsible for 101 tonnes of carbon reduction per year.

The works, delivered through the Non-Domestic Energy Efficiency Framework (NDEE), will replace the College’s existing gas heating system with a new 640kW air source heat pump. An integral part of this is the existing secondary heating system upgrades which will be implemented alongside the heat pump to provide optimum system operation.

Kieran Walsh, Vital Energi’s Operations Manager (North & Scotland) said: “This is an ambitious carbon reduction project opting for full heat decarbonisation in a single phase without any reliance on gas. By swapping fossil fuels for renewables, the College will take a considerable step towards their carbon targets and the project exemplifies how electrification of heat can be implemented efficiently with secondary system upgrades.

“Edinburgh College has a renowned Engineering, Renewables and Energy Efficiency Training Centre, which will play a key role in addressing the low-carbon sector’s skills gap. We look forward to collaborating with the College to showcase an exemplary heat decarbonisation solution to their students who are the UK’s future engineers.”

The project comes with an energy performance contract, which guarantees certain key performance indicators, such as carbon reduction, will be met, giving the College the certainty that its new heating system will perform as promised.

Colin Mclaren, Edinburgh College Estates Services Manager, said: “We are excited to be working with Vital Energi to deliver this key project on the College’s journey towards net zero. The funding provided through the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficiency Grant Scheme has allowed us to fully implement decarbonisation at our Midlothian Campus, which is a pathfinder project for the sector.”

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