Is this the most sustainable campus in the UK?

A Shropshire university college can make a strong claim to being the most sustainable higher education establishment in the country. Harper Adams University College installed the world’s first indirectly fired […]

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By Kelvin Ross

A Shropshire university college can make a strong claim to being the most sustainable higher education establishment in the country.

Harper Adams University College installed the world’s first indirectly fired micro-air turbine biomass combined heat and power generator, fitted a PV array on a hall of residence, uses electric vehicles on site, is one of the smallest institutions to achieve Carbon Trust standards and has two BREEAM-rated buildings.

And it has just installed an anaerobic digester which once up and running next year is expected to supply most on-campus electricity.

Harper Adams comprises 66,000 square meters and has 3,000 people on site, of which 700 are residents. It specialises in agricultural courses and energy manager Paul Moran says its sustainability success is born out of “the mindset of typical farmer thriftiness to protect our resources”.

Mr Moran is keen to point out that the university college’s success owes more than just fitting a few bits of eco-kit.

“It’s more than just energy,” he said. “It’s an ethos: a mindset. It’s all about culture change. The technology will make savings on its own but you cannot underestimate the impact of engaging with staff and students.”

He added that “very few of our students knew what a kilowatt-hour was, but one hall of residence cut its energy use by 46% once they were made aware of energy savings”.

So successful is Harper Adams that its energy use is almost closed-looped: “We are gathering our own electricity which is being used to charge the electric vehicles which are used to collect recycling,” said Mr Moran.

And once the 500KW anaerobic digester is up and running in March, food waste from the kitchens will go into it to provide power. “We will save 15,000 tonnes of CO2 a year,” stated Mr Moran. “This will make us more-than carbon neutral.”

Not bad for what Mr Moran describes as “a small rural outfit from Shropshire”.