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  • hammaad saghir

Oxford's Historic College Secures £522k Grant for Heat Pump Project

Image: Oriel College

In a significant move towards sustainability, Oriel College, one of the University of Oxford's esteemed institutions, is embarking on a transformative journey to replace fossil gas heating with air-source heat pumps in its historic student accommodation buildings. This initiative follows the college's successful bid for a government-backed grant totaling over £500,000 from Salix Finance, facilitated by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ). Complementing this grant, Oriel College has earmarked £321,334 of its funds to bolster the project.

The endeavor will witness the phased replacement of gas boilers with cutting-edge air source heat pumps across three key accommodation buildings located on Rectory Road in Cowley, marking a pivotal step towards decarbonization and energy efficiency.

"The student accommodation project affords a significant opportunity to draw on our research expertise and take a lead on sustainability," said the College's provost, Lord Mendoza. "Our world-leading energy researchers and technology scientists are working closely with staff, advising the College on how best to make use of the resources we have available."

Provost Lord Mendoza expressed enthusiasm for the project, highlighting the opportunity for Oriel College to leverage its research capabilities and spearhead sustainability efforts. Collaboration with energy researchers and technology experts aims to optimize resource utilization and drive impactful sustainability outcomes.

This initiative aligns with broader efforts within the University of Oxford to achieve net zero carbon emissions and biodiversity net gain by 2035, necessitating a coordinated approach across academic institutions. Oriel College has proactively developed a bespoke decarbonization strategy, leveraging insights to enhance energy efficiency and reduce reliance on gas heating systems throughout its estate.

Colin Bailey, a master of works at Oriel College, said the next step was to translate the plan "into a portfolio of action."

"We're developing a series of projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions across our site," he said. "Primarily this is with a view to doing our part to protect the environment both now and in the future."

However, the announcement comes amidst concerns the National Audit Office raised regarding the pace of heat pump uptake in the UK. With installation rates falling short of government targets, there is a pressing need to accelerate adoption to meet ambitious decarbonization goals.


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