As schools continue to monitor sustainability issues – and look for advice on how to improve their own energy portfolios – the example of those who have taken a lead in the field can be of great value. Sustainability charity Ashden’s LESS CO2 programme is a free energy efficiency scheme available to any UK school and Devon schools are one of their ‘graduating clusters’. Alex Green, Ashden’s schools programme manager, shares some of their top tips for managing sustainability projects
Our LESS CO2 free energy efficiency programme is not only helping to create more sustainable schools but is also galvanising young people to join the movement for a low-carbon world.
One of the reasons that schools love the LESS CO2 programme – which is supported by Bank of America Merrill Lynch – so much is the fact that they get to learn from other schools and share their ideas, tips and stories.
So we asked one of our recent graduating clusters – Devon schools – to share some of their advice for schools that are just starting out on their own energy management journey. Here our they share their top tips to making sustainability a success.
‘It’s good to have support from all corners’
- Get as much data as you can at the beginning of the process and learn how to calculate savings and payback times – this makes it easier to demonstrate the impact your work will have and to support any funding requests you make.
- Start measuring and monitoring what you are currently using in terms of energy.
- Create short, medium and long-term actions to ensure that you are looking at quick and easy wins as well as being ambitious with your bigger plans.
- Don’t underestimate how much time you will need to do this – speaking to other members of staff, reviewing energy data and contacting energy suppliers all takes time. It’s worth investing time in speaking to staff in all departments in your school. Plan in this time.
- Involve teaching members of staff early on. It’s good to have support from all corners. Help staff understand the cost of energy use at school by putting it into comparative figures they can relate to – for example, the cost of support staff hours in relation to the cost of leaving computers on overnight.
- Link the building management staff with the teaching staff to ensure that they are working together to save energy in the school.
- Get students involved – this is a great learning experience for them which they can take into their future education and careers. They are also great at encouraging/nagging staff to switch off their lighting and equipment!
Case study: Home Farm Primary School, Essex
The first primary school in Essex to be awarded a Grade B rating in its energy performance certificate, Home Farm, is a model of good behaviour. Between the dream team of head Richard Potter and school business manager Ceri Stammers, they have managed to turn around a poorly-managed heating system and a heat-leaking building to make Home Farm virtually self-sufficient in energy.
The school has an active student eco committee, solar panels on the roof and a new building management system has been installed – all contributing to the impressive turnaround in energy efficiency.
One of the simplest – yet most productive – moves was to enclose a central courtyard which has reduced gas consumption to 60% of what you would expect from a building of this type. The school has also seen a 61% reduction in its electricity use.
This article was written by Alex Green, Ashden’s schools programme manager