UK antes up £34 million for university green projects, LED installations

The UK government is springing another £34 million into a university carbon reduction fund that has helped finance scores of campus LED lighting projects since 2008.

The money marks the fourth round of the Revolving Green Fund, which has already provided £62 million in repayable grants to help universities in England cut CO2 emissions.

In the previous round, the fund dished out £21 million to 43 universities.

'LED lighting (was) the most popular type of project followed by pipework insulation,' the fund's administrator, the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE), says on its website. More than half of 43 the schools used the money to upgrade to LEDs, in many instances with multiple projects, according to HEFCE's Round 3 report.

Rounds 1 and 2 also included considerable LED activity.

LEDs use only a fraction of the electricity of conventional lighting, and thus slash carbon emissions. They also last much longer, reducing replacement and maintenance costs. But facilities managers often find the upfront costs to be prohibitive; still universities have been embracing the move, as Lux reported recently.

The Revolving Green Fund is another the device to help them make the switch to LEDs, or to install other lighting technology - some univesities have used it for T5 fluorescents, for insatnce.

The fund works as a 'recoverable grant,' which typically requires the recipient to eventually pay back the money if the project achieves savings. HEFCE has partnered with Salix Finance Ltd., a company that specialises in interest free loans for energy projects in the public sector.

HEFCE is 'non-departmental' government group that allocates the billions of pounds budgeted each year for England's universities (similar bodies handle Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), which are state funded. It has announced initial allocations of £3.9 billion for the 2014-15 year, an amount that is subject to change. Last year it distributed £5 billion in public funds.

It is sponsored by the UK government's Department for Business Innovation and Skills. HEFCE has set a deadline of Oct. 15 for applying for funds, and plans to announce recipients in January. The application is here and here.

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Photo: 'Brigthoning up.' -- HEFCE's Revolving Green Fund helped fund this LED lighting scheme at the University of Brighton. Image is from the HEFCE website.

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