Green expansion for Birmingham college

£8.5 million investment gives James Watt campus new energy.

Birmingham Metropolitan College is investing £8.5 million in a new Sustainable Energy Centre at its James Watt Campus in Great Barr – generating a whole host of new environmentally-friendly focused courses for students in North Birmingham.

The new centre has been specially designed to be environmentally self-sufficient helping to reduce its carbon footprint by creating heat and power through solar technology, electricity and water and it will be one of the first campuses to house its own hydrogen fuel cell for teaching purposes.

The £8.5 million investment, of which £2.9 million is grant funded by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), will create a new reception area, hall and Learning Resources Centre with improved access and will provide enhanced study centres and working spaces. A state of the art sustainable centre at the heart of the campus will provide better connectivity between the classrooms which will support a wide range of industries including telecoms, engineering, robotics, medical engineering, vocational science as well as health and social care.

John Starmer, Executive Director of Estates at Birmingham Metropolitan College, said: “This substantial investment in a new Sustainable Energy Centre at one of our main campuses in Birmingham is really exciting for students, staff and partner employers who use the facilities. The investment will focus on green technology which will allow the campus to be environmentally self-sufficient by generating our own energy and making a significant contribution to reducing the carbon footprint. Our commitment to supporting the national sustainability agenda will be complemented by the introduction of a range of vibrant and active environmentally-focused workshops and teaching areas.”

Award winning local construction company, Speller Metcalfe, has been appointed as contractor and will provide Master Class sessions for a range of students studying Construction Trades and Built Environment courses at other campuses. The Worcester based company will also recruit five construction apprentices and provide work experience placements for students as well as sourcing up to 70 per cent of its sub-contractor workforce from the local community.

Steve Speller, Joint MD at Speller Metcalfe, said: “We were delighted to have been successful in our bid to contribute to this exciting project for Birmingham Metropolitan College. As a company with a clear focus on sustainability we understand the important of building for the future and it is fantastic that the college is really considering their environmental impact for the longer term, which will also provide a sustainable legacy for the students who study here.”

New courses on offer at the James Watt Campus Sustainable Energy Centre will be Biomass Boilers, Ground Source Heat Pumps, Solar PV & Thermal, Grey Water Harvesting as well as Hydro Generation and Rapid Prototyping. Ground work has already started on the new centre with work due to be complete by October 2014.

Pic: Tony Knott, Site Manager (Speller Metcalfe), Steve Speller (Managing Director Speller Metcalfe), Andrew Cleaves (Principal at Birmingham Metropolitan College) and John Starmer (Executive Director for Estates at Birmingham Metropolitan College).