Serena Bacuzzi, the Sustainability Officer on the roof with solar panels.

It can be difficult to improve energy efficiency in buildings when they are spread over several campuses with thousands of students.

But North Warwickshire & Hinckley College have proved it is possible; through behaviour change, improving monitoring, energy saving investments, the installation of a 50kWp solar array on the Nuneaton building, and promoting the energy saving message to staff and students through events. NWHC have reduced CO2 emissions by 33% and gas use by 40% in 5 years.

North Warwickshire and Hinckley College has shown that impressive energy savings are possible even with 14,000 students spread across a number of different sites.

Ashden judging panel

Context

North Warwickshire & Hinckley College in Nuneaton is the first further education college to win an Ashden Award and its holistic approach to sustainability has seen it reduce carbon emissions by more than a third in the past five years. Improved insulation, better boilers, and the introduction of LED lighting and sensor controls are just some of the energy efficiency measures the college has put in place. IT team leader Maj, himself a former student, has actually redesigned the IT facilities to reduce electricity use by 35%. 

A team attitude to reducing consumption and building energy efficiency awareness, involving senior facilities managers and maintenance staff, is resulting in major savings to both the college budget and the environment. Now that’s what we call a win-win, especially in an establishment that covers several different locations and has more than 14,000 students.

Solar panels on roof.

Impact

Committed carbon management equals win-win

NWHC’s holistic approach to sustainability has seen it reduce CO2 emissions by more than a third in the past five years. Improved insulation, better boilers, and the introduction of LED lighting and sensor controls are just some of the energy efficiency measures the college has put in place. IT team leader Maj Shaikh, himself a former student, has redesigned the IT facilities to reduce electricity use by 35%.  

A team attitude to reducing consumption and building energy efficiency awareness, involving senior facilities managers and maintenance staff, is resulting in major savings to both the college budget and the environment. This has created a win-win situation, especially in an establishment that covers several different locations and is used by over 14,000 people.

  • 33% reduction in CO2 emissions over 5 years.
  • 18% reduction in electricity use over 5 years.
  • 40% reduction in gas use over 5 years.
Greenhouses for horticulture courses.

Details

Buildings and technology

The impressive Building Management System enables officers to continually monitor and control energy use in the Nuneaton and Hinckley buildings. Estate staff can set temperature levels in different parts of the buildings, 17oC being the norm, and adjust if necessary. Sub-metering around the campus also allows constant checks on levels of electricity use.  Therefore, excessive use of energy can be identified fairly quickly and the estates team can respond accordingly. In addition to the estates team there are 11 site wardens who read the energy meters monthly. The readings are recorded by the Sustainability Officer, who communicates the energy use figures to senior management, staff and students. 

If we can make things more efficient at the college from a budget point of view then that gives us more opportunities to improve what we do with our students.

John Taberer, Engineering Lecturer and Sustainability Champion

The College has an ongoing refurbishment programme that includes measures to save energy such as energy-efficient boilers, improved insulation, double glazing and heating and lighting controls.  For example, along corridors the natural lighting sensors switch off the lights when they are not required.

Behaviour change

Changing the behaviour of over 300 staff and 14,000 students of mixed ages, many of whom are part-time, is a huge task. The college has risen to the challenge by establishing a series of initiatives to raise awareness of the need to use energy efficiently. For example, its annual Green Week is an initiative that promotes sustainable living in a fun way. Sustainable energy tutorials also take place during Green Week. 

To keep staff and students informed about energy consumption, reduction targets and energy saving achievements data is displayed on the college’s sustainability notice board and online.

IT Manager in server room.

Curriculum

Serena Bacuzzi, the Sustainability Officer, has produced lesson plans on sustainability and an energy audit activity, which are shared with college tutors and course leaders. Although most courses at the college are non-academic, there are some where sustainability and technology can be integrated, namely Built Environment and Sustainability, Electrical and Electronics and Mechanical Engineering. For example, electric vehicles and their associated technology are studied in the automotive courses.

The future

The college has a continued commitment to reduce CO2 emissions resulting from all energy types. This consists of the future upgrading of buildings and will include pipe-work insulation, additional thermostatic radiator values, more double glazing, LED lighting and further sub-metering.  Additionally, a curriculum mapping exercise is soon to take place, which will identify further opportunities to integrate sustainability into the teaching, and help to engage with even more students.  

We are incredibly ambitious about taking this forward as we continue our work towards an even lower carbon future and as always using this to improve the experience of students and staff within our schools and colleges.

Marion Plant OBE, Principal of North Warwickshire & Hinckley College