Goldsmiths gives low-carbon heating the 'green' light

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Goldsmiths, University of London is set to install a new low-carbon heating network that will reduce its gas consumption by over 75% and save over 1100 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Corridors of the Richard Hoggart Building at Goldsmiths

Work on the system has been given the go-ahead after it was announced that Goldsmiths has secured a £5m grant under Phase 2 of the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

The new heating network will contribute 35% of the carbon emissions savings needed for Goldsmiths to be on track to meet its PLAN25 target of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. The project will involve installing a new network of insulated underground pipes around the campus and replacing ageing gas boilers with an electrically powered heat pump. The College worked with energy solutions provider SSE to design the project.

In 2019 Goldsmiths responded to a Green New Deal campaign led by students and staff by declaring a climate emergency and making its carbon neutral pledge. As well as addressing the global climate crisis, reducing carbon emissions will have a positive impact on air quality in the College’s home borough of Lewisham, where air pollution consistently exceeds WHO safety limits.

Work on the new heating system is due to be completed by the end of March 2022. While some gas boilers will be retained to provide top-up heat to the network during cold weather they will only provide around 20% of the total output of the system. This proportion will be further reduced as additional measures are implemented.

Jeanette Batten, Director of Estates and Facilities Management at Goldsmiths said: “This project is a huge step towards Goldsmiths’ PLAN25 target of becoming carbon neutral by 2025 and I am delighted that we have secured this Government funding so that work on the new heating network can begin. The success of our funding bid is down to the hard work of the project team supported by the expertise of SSE.”

The new heat network has been designed so that it can be connected to a district heating scheme as and when this becomes available. Goldsmiths has already had initial discussions with Lewisham Council about such a scheme.

The total value of the heat network project is £5.7m, of which £5m will come from a grant from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. In total £75m of funding from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was made available through the Scheme with £5m the maximum amount that a single organisation could be awarded.

In total the three key PLAN25 projects – the new heating network, the LED lighting upgrade, and the Building Management Systems upgrade – are forecast to save the College around £260,000 each year.

In November 2020 Goldsmiths was awarded a £63,300 grant under the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund to work with energy solutions provider SSE Enterprise and develop a detailed design for a new heat network.

Note: the 1100 tonnes CO2 reduction refers to CO2 equivalent (CO2e).