The need to become more energy efficient is pressing upon independent schools more than ever before. Energy bills are soaring and carbon taxes are now a reality; schools need to respond with sustainable measures to reduce their energy costs. But for many independent schools in the UK, this is a lot easier said than done.
Fitting a solar panel does not make you green
While many people immediately think of solar when they hear the term ‘renewable energy’, solar is usually just a part of a good sustainability strategy. Understand the building, and you’ll understand where the quick wins can be made first, often with insulation and improving the heating and hot water systems.
- Air Source and Ground Source Heat Pumps are highly efficient ways of reducing heating costs, particularly as part of the development of new school buildings.
- For older properties the savings for introducing biomass boilers are extremely high, especially when compared to the costs of oil or LPG.
- On the electricity side, there are the benefits and returns that can be achieved from solar, but you can also make a huge difference by upgrading your school’s lighting, which can contribute up to 40% of the total electricity bill.
- Wind Turbines provide a prominent environmental statement on the school’s landscape and a fantastic educational tool, while all the time generating free electricity and further savings.
A mini case study: Abingdon School
As the 20th oldest British independent school (750 years old!) Abingdon school is perhaps the epitome of an energy inefficient school. Hot water was taking a staggering 3 minutes to travel from boiler to showers. This meant sky-high heating bills for the school.
The solution? The installation of two hot water heat pumps, designed to extract the heat from the shower rooms and recycle it to produce an endless source of free hot water. A long term energy efficiency plan for the school in now being developed, phasing renewable energy installations over a number of years, during school holiday periods.
Find a single point of contact for your renewable energy strategy
The key for bursars is to find one single source of support for your whole sustainability strategy; a specialist who completely understands your individual school, its current energy usage patterns and your future development plans.
They should be able to offer you a full and certified installation service across the whole range of renewable and energy efficient technologies, together with a way to monitor and demonstrate the impact of measures taken. A successful partnership like this will ensure that the best decisions are taken for the long-term sustainability and future of the school.
Subsidies, grants and financial rewards
Capital costs of renewable technologies no longer need to be a barrier for schools to make progress. As part of the government’s drive towards lowering carbon emissions, The Carbon Trust can now provide Energy Efficiency Financing through Siemens Financial Services. This unique leasing arrangement is designed to be completely cost-neutral, with energy savings and subsidies covering the costs of the lease.
The Renewable Heat Incentive rewards installations of Heat Pumps, Biomass and Solar Hot Water, while the Feed-in Tariff is designed to reward installations of renewable electricity such as Solar PV and Wind Turbines.
Government subsidies are designed to give rewards for twenty plus years, which means that as an established, independent school, you are perfectly placed to take best advantage of the highest financial returns.
About Jason Hobbins
Jason Hobbins is Managing Director of EnergyMyWay; a UK-wide company providing intelligent, independent, renewable energy solutions. Highly recommended and fully accredited, EnergyMyWay works with schools, homeowners, businesses and community groups. They can give advice on integrated systems, products, installation, costs, grants and are committed to finding you the best solution for your property and your budget. t
Schools looking for support with any aspect of sustainability strategy can contact EnergyMyWay on 0845 371 3181 or visit http://www.energymyway.co.uk/schools