New schools across Wales
Utility upgrades and coal-free campus for over
Energy cost savings accross more than 80 buildings
There are also many improvements that can be made at long-established educational institutions to help them reduce emissions and save energy costs. The impact of the energy transition on education infrastructure goes far beyond efficiencies on bricks and mortar.
There are growing opportunities to inspire and influence the young minds that schools and colleges house, educating them about energy issues, while equipping them with skills to make a long-term positive contribution to the planet.
Meridiam’s focus on Critical Public Services and Innovative Low Carbon Solutions enables us to look for opportunities at the nexus of these two sectors. We are building new schools that aim to be carbon neutral and improve student and teacher wellbeing.
We are also helping large university campuses dramatically reduce their carbon footprints and become more resource efficient. In both cases, our teams are working with the institutions themselves and local authorities to develop initiatives and devise educational programmes that build awareness about the energy transition, both among students and the wider community. In doing so, we create positive synergies between two of our core investment sectors and multiply the positive impacts generated for people and the planet.
The Welsh Education Partnership, formed by Meridiam and the Welsh government in 2020, aims to create sustainable schools fit for the 21st century and will deliver up to 30 new projects – including primary, secondary and further education colleges – across the country.
The first schools are in the pipeline, including a 1,300-pupil school combining primary and secondary education in the northern county of Flintshire, three primary schools across the south of the country, and a further education college in the capital Cardiff.
The schools will be built and maintained to be carbon neutral throughout their lifetimes. That, in turn, will help the Welsh government towards its own goal of net zero by 2050. To achieve this, the buildings will feature larger and more airy social areas to help with ventilation and airflow; solar panels will be widely used to meet the buildings’ electricity needs; and ground or air-source heat pumps will provide sustainable heating.
Our investment programme in Espoo, Finland’s second city, is already underway and combines environmental standards with social goals. The project actively contributes to Espoo’s aim of being carbon neutral by 2050 and meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The project has been selected by the UN itself as an example of what cities can do to implement and achieve the SDGs.
CEO Welsh Education Partnership
Meridiam has undertaken two projects that will enable US universities to upgrade their utilities systems, get them off coal, and cut their climate impact.
At the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Meridiam has a 50-year contract alongside its partners to improve and maintain the university’s utilities systems that feed over 90 major buildings across the 1,700 acre site, including one of the US’s largest teaching hospitals with over 13,000 employees, students and volunteers.
Among the emission-reduction plans, the concession aims to achieve a 100% coal-free campus before 2025.
Central to that target is an initiative to convert university boilers to run on sustainable biomass, such as oat hulls, grasses and other locally produced materials. In addition to reducing its climate impact, the Project Company’s investment is also expected to free up some $15 million per year for the University of Iowa’s core educational programmes.
Meridiam’s 33-year contract with California State University, Fresno guarantees the university savings in excess of 30% on its energy bills.
Helping governments and educational institutions meet their emissions goals is just one element of Meridiam’s climate action strategy. Our work also focuses on educating students and getting them involved in sustainability work, as well as broader community outreach to raise awareness about practical ways to tackle climate change.
At University of Iowa, our concession agreement includes the creation of innovative programmes about energy transition for students and employees. These revolve around experiential learning, particularly internships, special projects, and research opportunities. Activities include tours of the utilities facilities for students and staff, and getting students actively involved in wastewater treatment operations.
Through the involvement of students and staff, our initiatives can change attitudes and behaviour, and can encourage universities to go further with their plans. At the same time, high-quality education and sustainability strategies serve as a positive point of difference for universities wanting to attract students.
The youngest can also be inspired by sustainability initiatives. Meridiam’s work with the Welsh Education Partnership is getting pupils involved in the design and planning of some school areas, while older students are undertaking projects on sustainable town planning.
Initiatives reach outside the school to help wider communities. We hold regular strategic partnering meetings with local authority representatives and bring in sustainability experts to present ideas and answer their questions. We share best practice openly with all our partners so that local authorities, other investors and contractors can understand how to meet net zero standards.
In doing so, we are giving everyone the tools to reduce emissions and address climate change.
Back to top