The government has announced additional funding and published guidance to help schools and colleges to increase energy efficiency.
The additional funding of £500m is primarily to assist with the current rising energy costs but will also play a role in reducing carbon emissions and making schools and colleges more sustainable. The government estimates that primary schools will each receive approximately £16,000 and secondary schools approximately £42,000 to upgrade their existing energy infrastructure, including heating, insulation and lighting. Further education college groups will receive around £290,000. This is in addition to the existing Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme which provides grants to public bodies for energy efficiency and decarbonisation projects.
The guidance, Energy efficiency: guidance for the school and further education college estate, provides practical advice on reducing energy demands, consumption and cost, and carbon emissions. It covers heating, water, lighting, technology and equipment, with examples of simple steps or “key user action and behaviours” (e.g. turning off running water), good practice (e.g. setting timers for lighting and water) and more costly “interventions” (e.g. installing water saving devices and lighting motion sensors) Considerations for establishments seeking to become more self-sufficient through the use of renewable technology are also included.
The guidance recognises that each establishment will have its own unique challenges, due to the age, location, setting and level of maintenance of the buildings amongst other factors. However, there are some key takeaways from the guidance that will be relevant to all establishments:
1. the importance of understanding current energy use to enable planning, prioritisation and monitoring of consumption and reduction. The guidance recommends undertaking an energy audit for this purpose.
2. the need to create, implement and manage a plan to reduce consumption.
3. how changing the behaviours of students and staff, including integrating behaviours in the establishment's policy and encouraging good practice, can positively impact on energy usage.
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