A new campaign calls for action in supporting schools to be zero carbon by 2030

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Source: Ashden

Simple behaviour changes could save schools a lot of money but the most significant savings in bills and carbon will come from retrofitting – extensive insulation and smart energy use – plus using lower cost energy from renewable sources

Let’s Go Zero, the campaign supporting schools to be zero carbon by 2030, is calling on the new Secretary of State for the Department for Education to retrofit every school in the country, to ensure they stop leaking heat, carbon emissions and money.

A rapid national retrofit rollout would protect children from the cold and help schools plan for long-term financial security.

In September, the UK Government announced a new Energy Bill Relief Scheme - a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic customers, which will help schools pay bills in the immediate term. But solutions for the long-term are still needed.

Alex Green, programme manager at Let’s Go Zero says: “This financial support will come as a welcome relief for schools, colleges and nurseries across the UK, but this is about paying bills – not about having long-term financial security or reducing carbon emissions.

”The Energy Bill Relief Scheme is merely a sticking plaster. Winter comes every year, so we need ambitious intervention by the new Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP to support energy efficiency, retrofit and renewables across all of our educational settings.”

The Let’s Go Zero campaign is advising schools all around the UK how to cut costs and carbon this winter – from simple interventions such as making sure heating systems and lighting are powered down when the school is not in use, to heating classrooms to only 19°C or running a switch off campaign with students. But they warn these are only stop gap measures.

1,700 schools, colleges and nurseries have joined the campaign to show their intent to be zero carbon by 2030. A key action would be to reduce the energy wastage that many schools suffer from as a result of old boiler systems, old draughty properties which leak heat, and lack of funds and capacity to improve energy efficiency.

“A retrofit energy saving overhaul will not only cut bills but will also ensure children have a warm place to learn in winter, save every school thousands of pounds that they can put into teaching instead of heating, and create jobs in every part of the country,” Green continues.

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Source: Dalmain School

Students at Dalmain Primary School in Lewisham, London, in front of their new ground source heat pump – a renewable and much cheaper source of energy

The campaign say government help needs to come in the form of increased funding for schools to carry out retrofit which includes high grade insulation on walls, floors and roofs to stop energy leakage, and install renewable energy fuel sources such as solar and wind power.

A government focus on training the construction and heating industries on retrofit techniques and renewable heating systems is also vital.

One renewable energy source which could be useful for schools nationwide is ground source heat pumps, which offer the advantage of being able to cool a building in summer.

Ian Goodchild, director of non-domestic sales at Kensa Heat Pumps says: “Ground Source heat pumps are a best fit for a majority of schools, due to offering the lowest carbon emissions, lowest lifecycle cost and most importantly right now, the lowest running cost solutions – this is due to the higher efficiency ground source systems can provide.

Dalmain Primary School in Lewisham, London, have implemented energy saving measures already, working with school retrofit specialists Retrofit Action For Tomorrow (RAFT) and their local authority to upgrade their old school building. By repairing their roof, installing wall and roof insulation and new roof lighting they have made an energy saving of 62 per cent.

Let’s Go Zero have published Energy Saving Quick Wins for schools and the Let’s Go Zero coalition of environmental NGOs - which includes GAP, Eco-Schools and WWF and others - provide support and resources to schools trying to prepare for the energy crisis.