The Journal for Executive and Governance Leaders

Transforming Energy Management: Trusts taking the lead on carbon reduction.

As part of our COVID-19 resilience and recovery planning it is important to give consideration to the other global threat we face, that of the climate emergency and to give thought to how we can take a lead in reducing carbon emissions and transform the way schools use and manage energy. With this in mind, we share the following article with expert advice that can guide and inform school trusts’ thinking in relation to this.

Everybody wants to see action on climate change and improvements to the life chances of young people. The education sector is in a unique position to benefit from the energy savings and income-generating opportunities afforded by effective energy management strategies and some of the country’s largest trusts are leading the way.

The challenge:

Since 2016 there have been seismic changes in how climate challenges are viewed in the media and by the students within our schools. This has, in part, been driven by Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet programmes, Greta Thunberg’s Youth Strike for Climate Change and the Extinction Rebellion protests.

The ‘legally binding’ targets set through the UK Climate Change Act 2008 aimed to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050 against the 1990 baseline, however in June 2019 the government set new targets requiring the UK to bring down greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Where are we now?

In 2017 the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) stated that schools used around 13 terawatts of electricity and generated over 4.6 million tonnes of carbon. An average secondary school produces between 150 and 300 tonnes of carbon per annum and a typical primary between 20 and 50 tonnes.

Utilities costs typically make up 2% of a school’s budget. With energy prices projected to rise annually by anything between 3-7% over the next 25 years, there is both an opportunity and an obligation on those managing trusts to implement strategies to save money and to reduce their organisation’s exposure to the future energy market.

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The opportunities:

There are three main areas where organisations can implement changes to have a positive effect on both carbon emissions and finances.

1. Maximise buying power:
The first step in reviewing a trust’s energy procurement strategy is harmonising existing contracts, removing penalty clauses on consumption and obtaining greater access to data. Using a specialist energy procurement company can simplify this process and enable the trust to engage with the energy market in a co-ordinated way to achieve best value.

At a more technical level, specialist companies such as Ginger Energy can help establish an Available Supply Capacity (ASC) that is appropriate for each site and will ensure you are on the correct tariff. Set an ASC too low for your needs and you will be faced with excess capacity charges. Set the ASC too high and you will be paying for more capacity than you actually use.

The education sector is in a unique position to benefit from the energy savings and income-generating opportunities afforded by effective energy management strategies and some of the country’s largest trusts are leading the way

2. Reduce energy consumption:
Based on the analysis of several of the country’s largest trusts, over 50% of a school’s energy is consumed when there are no students in the building. Of this, the greatest demand comes from lighting and IT. By investing in programmes of LED lighting replacements funded by Salix, Less Is More Capital and others, trusts are benefiting from improved lighting quality, utility bill reductions and the simplification of maintenance regimes.

BEIS is encouraging academies to use data from smart metering to help reduce their energy consumption by 15% and emissions by 40% by 2030. Through its innovative use of dashboards, EO Consulting* helps trusts collect and interpret their energy data to identify priorities and inform energy strategy.

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3. Generate renewable energy:
Most schools have the capacity to generate their own electricity through the installation of Photo-Voltaic (PV) panels. A typical secondary school with a 200kWp array will save around £27,000 in year one and the return on investment over the life of an installation is between 300-400%.

It is important to complete rigorous due diligence before entering into a PV contract. The funding model must be realistic and completed by competent engineers. Assessments of existing roofs must be carried out and statutory consents obtained. Finally, warranties and aftercare must align with the funding arrangements.

Case Study:
Since 2016 Barker and EO Consulting have worked with Brooke Weston and Ormiston Academies Trusts to develop an Energy Efficiency Programme which has seen them invest £2.8 million in energy and carbon reduction technologies.

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The programme saw over 15,000 lamps replaced with most work undertaken during the holidays and out of hours. This delivered a better teaching environment, upgraded emergency lights and generated significant energy savings.

The PV Panels installed have the capacity to generate over 900,000 kwh of electricity per annum for the next 25 years and will save the trusts over £2million after the loan has been repaid.

Data gathered from the first 2 years has shown results beyond the initial vision. It will leave a legacy of over £2million of free electricity for the life of the products installed across 13 academies, with some of the academies achieving a 50% reduction in energy consumed and a 50% reduction in carbon emissions in 2018, not 2030.

Barker and EO Consulting are working with a number of trusts nationally to deploy over £5 million of LED and PV solutions which will deliver a legacy of over £15 million of cash into schools which would not have previously been there.

*EO Consulting is a subsidiary of Barker

Barker is a CST Platinum Partner