It’s official! Sparsholt College is Winchester’s Green Business of the Year. The College scooped the title at the Winchester Business Excellence Awards held last week at the Guildhall for its ongoing commitment to carbon reduction.

The College has focused on minimising its environmental impact as a matter of principle, very much with the mission of educators at the forefront of this activity with ambitions to develop The Hampshire Renewable Energy Demonstration Centre to ensure the vital skills in these emerging technologies are developed and to promote better more efficient business practices.

Commenting on the award, Tim Jackson (Principal) said: “The College is very proud to be focused and committed to carbon reduction and to ensuring our campuses are as efficient and as green as they can be. We have been accredited for the third year running with the ISO 14001 standard which has been transformational in our achievement of lower consumption, lower emissions and of course lower costs.

“We have been working very closely with local business partners which was a point noted by the Business Award assessors, including GEP Consulting, Solar Panel PV Partners and more recently Ecotricity who have been spearheading our plans for a Green Gas Mill on campus, that will produce enough bio-methane gas to provide 4000 homes in the district with heat energy from renewable sources. This project alone would increase the current level of energy produced in the district from renewables by 30% – from the current rate of around 4% to greater than 5.5%.  The Winchester City Council target is for 15% of energy to be produced from renewables by 2020, which is very challenging from the current baseline.”

The list of the College’s initiatives to improve efficiency is significant with headline figures including: the largest single solar installation in the UK by an education institution. Total water consumption per occupant reduced by 25%; Electricity consumption per occupant reduced by 23.9% and gas mains consumption per occupant, down by 48.6%.  The College sends 0% of general waste collected to landfill and has reduced waste collected by 7% and waste per occupant by 28.8%.

The College’s new Engineering Building is on target to achieve the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) Standard of ‘excellent’ with the same building harvesting all rainwater.  In addition the College has installed a range of other environmental improvements including a water monitoring system on incoming supplies, upgraded building insulation, glazing system upgrades. Improvements are on-going and the discipline of the ISO 14001 Standard fosters a culture of continuous review and gain on waste and carbon reduction.

The Hampshire Renewable Energy Demonstration Centre, which is to be part funded by the Enterprise M3 LEP to the tune of £1.2million, would incorporate training for a range of land-based and other environmental technologies including the proposed Green Gas Mill for which a revised planning application will be submitted by the end of June.