WINCHESTER is set to become one of the lowest carbon emitting universities in the UK following a £3.1 million grant.

The money from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) signals the start of a major capital investment programme by the uni in innovative low carbon plant and equipment.

Phase 1 will see the replacement of 35 gas boilers with low energy heat pumps; a lighting upgrade to replace existing older-style lighting with low energy LEDs; an upgrade to the Building Management System to optimise energy consumption in buildings; and the installation of two large solar photovoltaic arrays designed to produce on-site generation of electricity at peak times.

"Once installed, the low carbon plant and equipment will support savings of over 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, with Scope 1 and 2 emissions falling to almost zero, which equals financial savings of up to £100k," said Gavin Hunter, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Winchester.

"Winchester is the only UK university to be awarded PSDS funding in the first round. The grant underlines the significant progress the University has made since 2006 when we began to move away from fossil fuels and invest in energy efficiency measures, installed renewables, switched to electric vehicles and purchased renewable electricity and gas. As the University for sustainability and social justice, we are proud to have been an early adopter within the higher education sector taking action to reduce our environmental impact."

Mat Jane, Head of Environment and Building Services at the University, added: "Our target to be carbon net zero by 2025 is ambitious, given many companies are targeting 2030 and the Government's goal is 2050. Not taking into account purchasing renewable energy, the University has reduced its carbon footprint by 65 per cent relative to the size of the estate to date, which is a huge achievement, but there is much more work to do."

The new low carbon plant and equipment will save a total of 2,702,353 kW a year – equivalent to 13 cars driven for one year or 2,450 propane cylinders burned.

Chris Ronketti, Director at Carbon Intelligence, said: "Investment in low carbon heat and energy infrastructure will be essential to meeting the UK's target of reaching zero emissions in buildings by 2050. This successful grant application involved long-term asset thinking, integrating carbon into the decision-making process. It has been a pleasure working with the team at University of Winchester as they take the last steps to achieve fossil fuel-free status."

Kirsty Adamson, Programme Manager at Salix, which provides Government funding to the public sector to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills, added: "We're delighted to be supporting the University of Winchester with their PSDS carbon reduction project. The project demonstrates the University's commitment to decarbonise their estate by reducing the overall energy demand of their buildings and switching away from fossil fuel-based heating systems. We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with the University and supporting them with their Net Zero plans."