A COLLEGE is powering forward to lower its carbon footprint thanks to a major investment in heating and electrical technology.

Darlington College is undergoing major upgrades with the installation of three brand new gas powered boilers and a combined heating power generator that is expected to result in carbon savings of around 345 tonnes a year.

Solar panels on the Child Care Centre and Sports Hall roofs, replacement LED lights and a state of the art building management system are also expected to save almost 2.5 million kWh of power which should create significant financial savings, that will free up funds for improving the student experience in other areas.

The new equipment, a £1.8m investment made with the support of the European Regional Development Fund, a Barclays Bank Green Asset facility and college reserves, will give Darlington College the ability to be an energy hub for the whole of Central Park, if required.

It also raises the green credentials of a learning facility designed, built and opened more than 14 years ago in line with the aims of the Strategic Economic Plan for the Tees Valley. It will be a major contribution to the overall carbon saving targets across the Tees Valley, thereby benefiting the whole region.

Darlington College’s Director of Finance and Corporate Resources Andrew Hayday said: “Since we built the college 14 years ago technology has moved on and the old equipment was fast becoming obsolete and expensive to run and maintain, we were ready for something market leading.

“We put in a bid to ERDF and have managed to secure a 60 per cent funding contribution and the new equipment will allow us to generate our own power on site, reducing the amount we have to take from the grid, thereby lowering our energy bills and more importantly our carbon footprint.”

Head of Estates and Site Services James Butterfield added: “This is great news for the college as the changes will improve the learning environment for staff and students, cut bills, make us less vulnerable to power cuts and lower the amount of greenhouse gases.

“The whole site will be controlled from one touchscreen command wall which will pinpoint  live performance and quickly identify faults. It will make the system much more controllable and user friendly.”