Pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has developed an on-site cooling system at its global headquarters in West London, using canal water and heat exchange technology.

As well as cutting energy costs, the move is expected to cut the equivalent of 920 tonnes of carbon emissions from GSK’s head office, which stands beside the Grand Union Canal. The system is primarily designed to cool the company’s computer data centre.

GSK spokesman Duncan Learmouth, said the development made good business sense, ‘with a five year pay back of more than £100,000 of annual energy savings.’

With some 2200 miles (3500 km) of canals and rivers across the UK under its control, British Waterways – which partnered GSK in the project – estimates that a further 1000 waterside businesses nationwide could also use water-source heat pump technology for heating or cooling. This would result in annual energy savings of £100 million ($150 million) and reductions in carbon dioxide emissions of approximately one million tonnes, the organisation says.

Tony Hales, British Waterways’ chairman, commented: ‘A legacy of their industrial past, our waterways pass alongside thousands of waterside organisations seeking greener ways of doing business.’