An easy step on the road to cutting carbon

For schools, there is now an imperative to look for ways to reduce energy consumption.

In terms of leadership, schools have a responsibility to promote the green agenda and set a strong example by taking action to reduce emissions and tackle climate change.

In terms of carbon, the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRCEES) means that local authorities and companies with a portfolio of private schools will need to account for their energy and introduce energy efficiency measures to make auditable reductions. Those avoiding action will face sizeable fines.

In terms of cost, realistically energy prices are only likely to rise over the coming years. Taking efficiency measures not only leads to lower bills now, but also helps to mitigate higher prices in the future.

And, in terms of providing an improved learning environment, pupils can use the energy efficiency measures around them in subjects such as mathematics, science and the humanities.

You might be surprised to learn that, according to the Carbon Trust, schools in the UK could save around £70 million per year by reducing their energy costs. This equates to a CO2 reduction of 300,000 tonnes. To put this into perspective, just one tonne of CO2 would fill six double-decker buses.

Whilst most schools will take the obvious steps of switching off computers and installing low energy lighting, the measures that will deliver significant savings can seem quite daunting and it’s not always obvious where to start.

Micro generation, smart heating and cooling, Combined Heat and Power are just some of the options available and each will generate both cost and carbon savings.

Probably not on your list of measures is Voltage Power Optimisation (VPO)®. VPO gives energy, cost and carbon savings by efficiently optimising a site’s supply voltage. As a result, electrical equipment runs more efficiently and consumes less energy.

Thousands of commercial sites in the UK have installed VPO, averaging 13% annual reduction of their electricity usage.

It is the single most effective energy efficiency measure you can take, yet few people in the schools sector have heard of it.

One school that has already benefited from VPO is Treorchy Comprehensive School in South Wales. A powerPerfector unit was installed in 2009 has achieved a 16 per cent reduction in annual electricity usage - equating to a saving of £12,137.

In the independent sector, Windlesham House, a co-educational day and boarding prep school in Pulborough, is the latest school to install a unit and annual cost savings of 10 per cent are expected.

Funding is always a traditional stumbling block for any measure but, thanks to the Carbon Trust, it has never been easier for Independent schools to invest in energy savings projects. Their interest-free four year loan can cover the cost of the investment and is structured in a way that the energy savings at least match the loan repayments. As a Platinum Supplier to the Carbon Trust, powerPerfector can apply for the loan on a school’s behalf.

By motivating staff and pupils through lessons, as well as providing practical advice on how to save energy, a school-wide approach to energy management can reduce the school’s carbon footprint and provide long-term benefits for the school, its people and the environment.

Reading meters and analysing data provides an ideal opportunity for pupils to get involved in understanding energy use and data handling. Pupils can use spreadsheets, produce graphs and conduct analysis of results. These graphs can then be displayed on notice boards to raise awareness across the school.

The more energy efficient a school is, the better – both for the environment and the school itself.

powerPerfector’s unique Voltage Power Optimisation technology is the single most effective energy efficiency measure an organisation can take, reducing electricity consumption, energy costs and carbon footprint, whilst improving security of supply.

The Financial Times called powerPerfector the ‘green grail’. It can be difficult to know where to start, but there are some easy-wins on the road to cost and carbon savings.

Blaine Pritchard is an Energy Consultant for powerPerfector

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