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Saturday, July 20, 2024

College sustainability expert helps homeless charity save thousands on energy costs 

Nelson and Colne College’s sustainability expert has teamed up with Nightsafe to see how it can help the charity reduce its “catastrophic” energy costs.
Each year it costs approximately £1.3 million to run Blackburn-based charity Nightsafe, which supports young people aged 16-24 who are at risk of homelessness. They provide 12,000 safe nights off the street each year and have seen an ever-increasing need for their services.
One of the biggest outgoings is energy costs to run the six housing projects across Blackburn with Darwen – each keeping a roof over the head of six young people, Platform 5 – their day centre which provides hot meals, washing facilities and clean clothes to those in need, and their emergency night shelter which is open 365 days a year.
Dr Steve Wright, director of Academic Standards at Nelson and Colne College Group’s University Centre and a chartered engineer, believes he can help the charity save over £20,000 a year through some quick fixes.
From September, Steve is heading up the nation’s first undergraduate programme in Sustainable Technologies.  The course is aimed at teaching people to evaluate today’s green technologies and make sense of what works and what doesn’t in real-world situations. Once qualified, graduates will be able to help at any business in manufacturing, construction or transportation to select technologies that will both benefit the environment and save money.
Steve said: “One site has catastrophic power bills – a combination of being on all-electric heating, having a gas boiler for water heating that doesn’t work reliably and being on a lousy tariff.
“The capital costs of changing the heating system would make the payback period very long.  There is, however, scope for a quick fix on tariffs, minor maintenance of their boiler and fitting controls to some of their systems.  On this property, I think it’s possible to get cost savings of over 40%.
“Most of the housing projects are running moderately efficient heating systems that would benefit from better control.  For two of them I believe we can make savings in excess of 10%.”
The suggestions will form part of a two-year relationship between Nelson and Colne College Group and the charity – not only to reduce their bills, but also their CO2 emissions. Initially they would focus on the ‘low hanging fruit’ that requires minimal investment, before looking at further changes with short payback periods.
Nicola Roscoe, Nightsafe operations manager, said the charity was thrilled that Nelson and Colne College had offered to help the charity.
She said: “Our energy costs are by far one of the biggest outgoings for the charity – so any reduction in the costs is welcomed. To hear that we could potentially make a 40% saving at one site is incredible.
“Steve is so knowledgeable, and I never thought I would find talking about energy so fascinating. So many people are in the same position where they’re feeling the strain from energy costs but when it comes to making savings they don’t know where to start.
“Having someone like Steve with the expertise and helicopter view of where savings can be made will make the world of difference to Nightsafe and allow us to offset some of our estimated £280,000 deficit this year and enable us to focus more on the young people we support.”
Helen Greaney
Helen Greaney
If you have interesting things happening at your company in Lancashire, I'm the news editor here and I'd love to hear it. I'm a senior journalist with more than 18 years' experience in local, regional and national newspapers, as well as in digital PR.
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