Ardingly College is a co-ed boarding and day school near Haywards Heath. The school has been at its current site in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since 1870. We have been working with Ardingly College since March 2015, initially supporting the school in the development of an energy strategy for a part of their estate; and subsequently in the delivery of a major renewables project.
Within the strategy work, the school needed to consider the relative merits of investing in a district heating system fueled by gas or biomass. Working with the Bursar and Estates Bursar, we developed a detailed financial and technical analysis of the relative merits of each option. The school opted for a 500kW wood-chip biomass district heating system, based in a new purpose-built Sussex-barn style building to achieve compliance with stringent Planning regs and be situated in the optimum position for fuel deliveries. Subsequently we provided full project-management services for the installation of the new biomass system. This entailed working closely with the school staff to specify all system components, support the planning process, select specialist engineers and then supervise the nitty-gritty of the installation.Work began in February 2016. The system was commissioned on 27th September 2016 and the relevant subsidy (the Renewable Heat Incentive(RHI)) was secured on 31st October 2016. The project is now complete.
This new district heating system serves two boarding houses, the Pre-Prep School, Nursery,Department of Technology, and the Medical Centre – all located on the Southern edge of the school estate. It requires 400m of heat main to serve all 6 buildings. The system replaces 5 old oil and gas boilers, to provide a carbon saving of over 140 tonnes of CO2 every year. Almost incredibly – given that the equivalent annual oil bill was only £30,000 – this project will save the school nearly £41,000 in running costs in the first year, and go on saving as much per annum for the life of the biomass system. This is in large part owing to the UK government’s guaranteed, index-linked 20-year subsidy, which is worth about £34,000 annually (all depending on how cold it is). Set against that is the substantial capital outlay, but in the long term it is a sound investment for the school. It demonstrates that, with the right planning, energy usage can be transformed from a net cost to a net revenue generator.