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Oriel College receives half a million for heat decarbonisation project

Oriel College, Oxford, will replace gas-fired heating systems with air source heat pumps at three accommodation buildings at the college’s halls of residence on Rectory Road, Cowley. The College has secured a grant of £552,140 from Salix Finance, acting on behalf of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, for the project and also earmarked £321,334 of its own funds.

The Provost of Oriel College, Lord Mendoza CBE, said: “The student accommodation project affords a significant opportunity to draw on our research expertise and take a lead on sustainability. 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.”

The University of Oxford has set its sights on reaching net-zero carbon emissions along with biodiversity net gain by 2035. Delivering on this target demands a cross-collegiate response.

Oriel College has developed a bespoke decarbonisation plan identifying the most pragmatic ways for it to improve energy efficiency and reduce dependence on gas heating systems across its estate. It is now working to translate that plan into a portfolio of action, according to Master of Works Colin Bailey.

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

Influential academics in the fields of energy research at Oriel College include Professor Nick Eyre, formerly director of the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions, and Dr Philipp Grünewald, research director of the Energy Demand Observatory and Laboratory.

Dr Grünewald said: “Heating is one of our main sources of carbon emissions, so this is where we can make a huge difference on our journey to net-zero. We have reached the point where students, academics and estates teams are all pulling in the same direction.”