University of Northampton's 'self-sufficient' energy centre lights up skyline at switch-on ceremony

The "switching-on" ceremony yesterday (August 1) lit up the 12-metre LED screen.
The "switching-on" ceremony yesterday (August 1) lit up the 12-metre LED screen.

A new 26-metre tall flue shaft with an LED screen has been added to Northampton's skyline by the University of Northampton.

A "switching-on" ceremony held at the new Waterside Campus, by the River Nene, marked the completion of the site's new energy centre yesterday (August 1).

The 350million campus has been built with money loaned from the treasury.

The 350million campus has been built with money loaned from the treasury.

The centre has been designed to provide hot water and heating to the £350-million campus by burning woodchip biomass and gas.

Its flue shaft, which is as tall as three London buses, comes fitted with a 12-metre LED screen to advertise the university to drivers on Bedford Road and will also display event updates and student messages.

Mike Cooke, regional director at Vital Energi, which built the centre, said: “Creating a renewable energy solution for a new town centre campus is an ambitious objective. However, the university has achieved this whilst demonstrating their commitment to sustainability.

"From the energy centre’s unique architecture and cladding through to the LED screen of the flue shaft, the scheme creates a great example for the industry.”

The centre will reportedly save 2,200 tons of carbon annually by burning biomass fuels. A "combined heat and power engine" will later be added to the centre to make the campus self-sufficient.

Bob Griggs, Project Director at the University of Northampton said, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to develop the university’s commitment to its sustainability agenda and environmental infrastructure has been a key factor in the planning and construction of the Waterside Campus. By working with Vital Energi we have a sustainable, future proof heating network which will service the campus well.”

The University’s Waterside Campus has been built on a former 58-acre brownfield site on the banks of the River Nene close to Northampton town centre.

The new campus, which will be home to 14,000 students and 2,000 members of staff, features a 1,000-bed student accommodation village.

Work started in July 2015, and the campus is scheduled to open in September 2018 for the new academic year.