A PIONEERING waste water heating system at Borders College has won a major award.

The Netherdale campus became the first building in the entire UK to benefit from a sewerage heat recovery system almost two years ago.

And the revolutionary design was honoured last week at the coveted Green Gown Awards.

The awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges.

And walking away with the Best Newcomer Award was Borders College for its work with SHARC Energy Systems and Scottish Water Horizons.

Pete Smith, vice principal at Borders College, said: “The College is absolutely delighted to be recognised as a finalist in the Green Gown Awards, but to win the Best Newcomer Award for our SHARC project is absolutely fabulous.

“It shows what a small institution can achieve when working in partnership with like-minded organisations, benefitting not only the institution itself but society more widely.”

Backed by investment from Equitix and the UK Green Investment Bank, the SHARC heat recovery system intercepts waste water from the adjacent town sewer line operated by Scottish Water.

The technology extracts the natural warmth contained within this water and transfers the heat to the clean side of the heating system via a heat exchange mechanism.

The recovered heat is then amplified via heat pumps to generate the appropriate temperatures for use in buildings.

The heat produced is being sold to Borders College under a 20-year purchase agreement, producing savings in energy, costs and carbon emissions.

The system now provides around 95 per cent of the heat needed by the Galashiels campus and does not impact on the normal operation of the local waste water network.

Russ Burton, chief operating officer of SHARC Energy Systems, told the Border Telegraph: “We are delighted to have won this award alongside Borders College and Scottish Water Horizons.

“This is a great example of how strong relationships, shared vision and great working partnerships can come together to make a significant impact for all of the parties involved.

“We are really looking forward to helping the college achieve their next level in carbon reduction activity over the next two years.”

Scottish Water Horizons, a subsidiary of the public utility, supports the development of a sustainable economy in Scotland and played a key role in turning the project into reality.

The group's business development manager, Donald MacBrayne, added: “We are delighted to have played a part in this winning project, contributing to significant cost and carbon savings for the college and bringing with it wider environmental benefits.

“The Borders College installation is just the beginning for heat from waste water schemes in Scotland and, working alongside SHARC Energy Systems, we are actively rolling out more of these innovative projects, with several scheduled for completion next year.”