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27 June 2011

HEFCE funding of 10 million to cut carbon emissions

HEFCE today invites applications for funding from the second phase of the Revolving Green Fund (RGF) for projects to reduce carbon emissions.

This second phase of funding builds on the demonstrable success of phase one, which made a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions, and extends HEFCE's support for universities to radically change their approaches to energy use. 10 million will be made available over the two years 2011-12 and 2012-13 (Note 1).

There will be two strands of funding. Both will support projects which result in reductions in carbon emissions and costs, contribute to behaviour change and help establish a low-carbon culture:

  • Strand 1 targets small-scale projects to improve energy efficiency and will aim to reach a broad range of institutions.
  • Strand 2 will make up to 3 million available for exemplary retrofit projects. These flagship initiatives will inform research, promote skills development and market growth in the relevant technologies - they must also demonstrate potential to capture and disseminate learning that will be of benefit across the higher education sector.

The energy efficiency improvements resulting from the projects will enable universities to reimburse the fund through the savings achieved.

A thorough evaluation of phase one of the RGF (Note 2) found that projects had accelerated carbon reduction and led to savings of more than 2 per cent of emissions from English higher education institutions each year. The investment in phase one could result in an 8.6 per cent annual cut in the sector's emissions by 2020 (Note 3).

In response to the findings of the evaluation of phase one, there will be no requirement for match funding in phase two, with the aim of engaging a wider range of institutions thereby increasing the fund's reach and impact.

Steve Egan, HEFCE Deputy Chief Executive, said:

'The Revolving Green Fund is proving to be a really effective initiative. The savings recycled from the initial round of projects through improvements in energy efficiency will now feed into further financial and environmental benefits. Such investment is a fitting response in these times of financial constraint - it will help universities achieve financial savings and contribute to the country's commitment to reduce carbon emissions.'


  1. Full details are published in 'Revolving Green Fund - invitation to apply for a second phase of funding' (HEFCE Circular letter 16/2011).
  2. 'Evaluation of the Revolving Green Fund: a report to HEFCE by Oakleigh Consulting' (July 2010).
  3. The phase one evaluation found that: 'The fund is successfully working towards meeting its stated aims by providing a major mechanism for institutions to invest in this area, accelerating carbon reduction with current projects saving over 2% of English HEI carbon emissions every year. If the current level of success and trajectory of project implementation is sustained then the RGF will lead to significant further carbon and cost savings, potentially up to 8.6% of current English HEI carbon emissions every year by 2020.' ('Evaluation of the Revolving Green Fund: a report to HEFCE by Oakleigh Consulting', July 2010, p6-7). This figure is based on the assumption that the total institutional small projects funding of 25 million is reinvested in such projects three times between the time of the evaluation and 2020, and that all the projects achieve the same ratio of carbon savings to cost (in other words, the cost of saving each tonne of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of a project or piece of equipment).
  4. An overview of the Revolving Green Fund is available on this web-site.
  5. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) promotes and funds high-quality, cost-effective teaching and research to meet the diverse needs of students, the economy and society. Our responsibilities are to develop policies, distribute funds, safeguard quality and assure the proper stewardship of public money. We work closely with universities, colleges and other partners to achieve excellence and impact in education and research, and to provide opportunities for all those who have the ability to benefit from higher education. For the academic year 2011-12, HEFCE will distribute 6,507 million of public money to 130 universities and higher education colleges, and 124 directly funded further education colleges.