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Warrington college recognised for green efforts

A Warrington college has scooped a national green award after making an impressive reduction in its carbon footprint.

Beating off competition from the NHS, Surrey and Cambridgeshire Libraries and Learning Services, Warrington Collegiate won the Best Sustainability Initiative Award at the UK Public Sector Digital Awards 2011.

The awards, formerly called the e-Government National Awards, have been recognising outstanding innovation in public sector technology since 2003 and are supported by the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

He said: “These awards recognise some of the brilliant work done by digital specialists working across national and local government.”

More specifically, the Best Sustainability Initiative award was designed to celebrate best practice examples of sustainability in action, and was given to Warrington Collegiate to reward their ‘green’ actions.

The facilities and IT services departments at the college have reduced their CO2 emissions in a variety of ways, including by installing solar panels to harness the power of renewable energy sources.

They also set up smart-metering systems which can shut down gas, electricity, water and air conditioning units automatically and recycle energy wherever possible.

Further, the ICT infrastructure has been addressed, with 60 servers being virtualised to replace 42 old computers, printers changed to lower energy models and a software installed that shuts machines down after 30 minutes of inactivity.

Overall, these efforts made a carbon footprint reduction equivalent to lessening CO2 emissions by 327 tons per year, taking 71 cars off the road or planting over 14,000 trees.

Nick Smeltzer, director of IT services, who picked up the award, said:

“I am delighted to accept this award for Warrington Collegiate. Wining the Best Sustainability Initiative is recognition of our commitment to the environment and to reducing our carbon footprint.

“These are challenging financial times and the ability to reduce our energy consumption means that we have more resources available for our students.

“It is also proof that further education colleges can be right at the cutting edge when it comes to implementing new technology and systems and adapting to change.”

This is not the first time that the college has been awarded in recognition of its’ green credentials, as in 2011 it won both the JRC RSC North West Recognition of Innovation Awards and the Techworld Award for Energy Efficiency.

More locally, the sustainability programme triumphed at the Warrington Business Awards, where it was commended for Team of the Year 2011.

And the success may continue, as Warrington Collegiate is developing a number of courses and apprenticeships which offer training in renewable energy sources.

The college also plans to run conferences and seminars for business and education including local schools, to showcase what can be done to save energy and money in these times of austerity.

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