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Universities save millions through energy efficiency funding

Keele University was one of the institutions to receive funding through RGF1 and is now estimated to be saving more than £540,000 a year.

Keele University was one of the institutions to receive funding through RGF1 and is now estimated to be saving more than £540,000 a year.

Universities have saved more than £210 million through the adoption of energy-efficiency measures according to Salix Finance, a government-funded company offering repayable loans to higher education institutions.

In 2008, Salix launched the Revolving Green Fund (RGF) alongside the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), offering £30 million to universities around the country. Successful institutions were allocated their own ring-fenced funding to be used for investment in energy efficiency. This is then paid back to the RGF from the savings found to result from the installations, with the university able to benefit from ongoing savings once the loan has been repaid.

The universities have benefitted from the installation of over 2,600 projects since the launch of the original fund, with the initial investment enabling over £50 million worth of energy saving projects to go ahead.

The scheme offered two strands of funding, with money from Salix being used to fund smaller institutional projects. This funding was awarded to 57 higher education institutions and Salix claims these smaller projects will have offer projected lifetime savings of £210 million.

Keele University was once of the institutions to receive funding and has since recycled its original £250,000 RGF four times. Salix says projects implemented at Keele using the fund are estimated to exceed £540,000 annually.

Since the first release, there have been three additional funding rounds under the RGF taking the total amount provided by the scheme to £90 million. The most recent release of £29 million in 2014 was the largest to date and allocated funding to 33 small-scale projects and ten large projects.

The previous release of £21 million was spread between 43 universities and saw LED lighting selected as the most popular type of project, while others incorporated pipework insulation, boiler replacements and building energy management systems.

Despite the apparent success of the scheme, a spokesperson for Salix said there are currently no plans for a fifth RGF release, although universities can still apply for loan funding from Salix on an ongoing basis.