THE University of York is putting renewable energy at the heart of its £500 million new campus after talks with council chiefs.

University chiefs say they will be using biomass for heating to meet their commitment to provide at least ten per cent of its new campus expansion’s energy needs through renewable sources.

It is part of an ambitious plan to develop renewable energy to power both the University of York’s £500 million Heslington East development and its existing Heslington West campus.

The move follows talks held last week and reported in The Press between City of York Council leader, Andrew Waller and university official Elizabeth Heaps.

Last month, a council planning committee refused to back part of the planned development, slamming the university’s apparent lack of progress on environmental issues.

A decision on the theatre, film and television building was deferred because councillors were unconvinced ten per cent of its energy would be from renewable sources.

The university says it is developing a major “one campus” energy strategy to meet its future needs, starting with a £3 million utilities corridor between the 116-hectare extension at Heslington East and Heslington West.

It is the first step in adopting a comprehensive approach to energy provision. The University hopes this will eventually involve the use of biomass boilers as an integral element of the district heating system across the entire campus.

The strategy involves plans to locate a biomass boiler at Heslington East to generate hot water, using woodchip from local sustainable sources, to supplement water provided by the University’s central energy centre. The boiler would meet ten per cent of renewable energy requirements for all buildings in phase one of the expansion.

Ms Heaps, pro-vice-chancellor for Estates and Strategic Projects, said: “Renewable energy is an important part of our strategy but efficient use of energy in the University as a whole is critically important. All buildings on Heslington East will meet rigorous design standards, delivering high energy efficiency and low energy use.”

Keith Lilley, the university’s director of facilities management, said: “We are adopting renewable energy from biomass heating it offers the greatest opportunity to reduce carbon emissions. Alternative technologies such as solar energy and ground source heat pumps have been investigated, but they offer far less in the way of carbon reduction for the investment being made. “As technology develops, the university hopes to adopt biomass combined heat and power boiler plant which has both efficient and low/zero carbon technology.”