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State-of-the-art heating project supports sustainability goals

26th May 2022

EQUANS, the new name for global energy firm ENGIE’s services and regeneration-led business, has supported Northumbria University in further reducing its carbon footprint thanks to the installation of a £1.7 million high-tech heating system.

Working at the University’s City Campus, the EQUANS team has replaced inefficient gas boilers with state-of-the art Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) placed on the roof of two key buildings as part of a multi-million pound project, funded mainly by the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

The ASHPs are a more environmentally-friendly way of heating buildings as they take warmth from the air – even in freezing temperatures – to provide heating for the dozens of lecture theatres, offices, cafe and other facilities within the buildings which are home to Newcastle Business School, Northumbria Law School and Northumbria School of Design.

Preparatory work began in early February, with the ASHPs lifted six stories onto the roof of each building in early April and plumbed in to provide heat just a few weeks later.

As well as cutting the emissions of the campus, the heat pumps will be a key tool for Northumbria students, who can use the live data generated on building heating and performance to support their degree studies. The University is projected to save more than 316 tonnes of carbon a year.

Professor George Marston, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Projects and Sustainability lead at Northumbria, said: “The University Strategy states our commitment to optimising our contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through research, teaching, campus and operations, and we’re proud to have achieved a 58 per cent carbon reduction in the past five years.

“The installation of Air Source Heat Pumps is the next step in our journey towards Net Zero Carbon. The speed and skill of the installation is a credit to the professionalism of the whole EQUANS team who have supported us to successfully deliver this project.

“Our Environmental Sustainability Policy considers the impact the University’s activities have on the wider environment and aims to minimise this impact wherever possible. The policy is reviewed and updated regularly to ensure we can continue to work towards our ambitious targets in areas such as energy and water use and emissions.

We were thrilled to see our sustainability efforts recognised so positively through People & Planet’s University League for 2021. We were delighted to be ranked so highly, both within the top 20 in the UK overall, and as the best university in the North East region.”

Tim Wood, Director of Sustainability at EQUANS, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Northumbria University in helping to decarbonise its City Campus. By switching from an old, inefficient, gas system to modern Air Source Heat Pumps, the university is reducing its overall carbon footprint, and playing a major role in supporting the Net Zero ambitions of the city of Newcastle.

“By working closely together, this project was delivered quickly and safely, with minimal disruption to students or staff at the university. Hopefully, this will be the start of other large organisations – like the university – looking into how to reduce their carbon footprints too.”

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and delivered by Salix Finance, which supports energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects within the public sector. 

Kirsty Adamson, Salix Finance’s Programme Manager, said: “Salix Finance is very pleased to be supporting Northumbria University’s transition to low carbon heating through the installation of air source heat pumps on the rooftops of two of their key buildings in the city centre.

“It’s been a pleasure working with the university who have been particularly energetic in tackling one of the most difficult challenges we face in achieving net zero – how to decarbonise our heating systems. We hope the changes will help provide an even better working and learning experience for staff and students alike.”

Footage captured by EQUANS and their partners during the installation process can be viewed on Northumbria’s Vimeo channel. For more information about the University’s sustainability efforts, visit
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