University of Northampton goes green with new Waterside campus

Students at the University of Northampton will soon have their heating and hot water generated by a CO2-saving on-site energy centre, incorporating woodchip biomass boilers and a combined heat and power (CHP) system.

The University’s new Waterside campus, which opens in 2018, will have 100% of its heating and hot water needs served by the new energy centre, which is expected save more than 2,200tCO2e a year compared with conventional heating systems when fully operational.

And the 58-acre campus will incorporate a plethora of other energy-saving measures, including LED lights, energy-efficient building design features and an advanced energy monitoring and control system.

The new heating system, delivered by Vital Energy, will see more than half (54%) of the heat generated from CHP, with the remainder coming from biomass (35%) and gas (11%) boilers. The 1MW biomass boiler will create low-carbon hot water which is distributed through the district heating network to provide heating and hot water for the buildings on campus.

Vital Energi regional director Mike Cooke said: “By specifying a biomass district heating system for the new Waterside Campus, the University of Northampton is setting a great example for the Higher Education sector by demonstrating how renewable energy solutions can be implemented, reducing carbon emissions and integrating thermal storage to maximise the Renewable Heat Incentive.”

Smart campus

The Waterside Campus, which will provide state-of-the-art academic facilities for 15,000 students, has been designed to be as energy efficient as possible. The specific orientation and shape of the building have been positioned to minimise its artificial cooling, lighting and heating requirements. LED/eco-florescent lighting is also being implemented, along with high-thermal performance windows.

The University’s energy strategy also includes plans to introduce a number of ‘smart’ features to the campus, including an adaptive heating ventilation and air conditioning system that adjusts to the number of occupants and current air quality in the building to optimise fan speeds and drive efficiency. The campus will also be employing a sub-metering system that will ensure that 90% of input energy will be accounted for and distributed efficiently. The Building Management System (BMS) will automatically monitor all sub meters, ensuring the energy is being managed effectively.

The University of Northampton’s Waterside project director Bob Griggs said: “The sustainability of the development at Waterside has always been one of our top concerns at the University and a key principle of the new development has been to minimise the energy demand and maximise the efficiency of energy use.”

This is the latest in a line of examples of universities placing sustainability and energy efficiency at the centre of their operations. Oxford Brookes University recently became one of the first educational establishments in the UK to use demand response as a way of reducing energy usage in student accommodation. Additionally, the first ‘carbon-neutral’ student accommodation will be opening later this year at the University of Herefordshire, having secured a BREEAM Outstanding rating.

But despite this positive progress being made by some, the higher education sector as a whole is struggling to stay on track with 2020 energy reduction targets.

edie’s green buildings month

The month of October sees edie shift the editorial spotlight from energy efficiency to green buildings. From new-builds to retrofits; construction design to building controls, this month of exclusive content will highlight the array of options available to improve the performance of buildings.

Stay tuned for green building-focused news stories, in-depth features and a special Sustainable Business Covered podcast episode which will investigate the latest techniques, the best management systems and the different steps UK businesses can take to increase the efficiency of their building stock and drive environmental performance.

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Alex Baldwin

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