Guest Blog From Ashden – a Sustainable Schools Alliance member
Ashden’s LESS CO2 programme is a free energy efficiency programme available to any UK school and is not only helping to create more sustainable schools, but also galvanising young people to join the movement for a low-carbon world.
The programme runs over the course of a school year in a series of four half-day workshops, and includes expert advice and resources for staff as well as the opportunity to ask questions, discuss ideas, and brainstorm solutions. The workshops cover various aspects of energy saving, from recording meter readings to monitoring energy use, behaviour change for staff and students, and how to incorporate sustainability into the curriculum.
Local schools work together in geographic clusters of up to 15, sharing information, experiences and advice on how best to tackle energy usage and reduce energy bills. The chance to learn from other schools is one of the reasons the LESS CO2 programme, which is supported by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, is proving so popular.
Top Tips from a Devonshire School
We asked one of our recent graduating clusters to share some of their advice to schools that are just starting out on their own energy management journey. Here are our Devon schools’ tips to making sustainability a success:
- Get as much data as you can at the beginning of the process and learn how to calculate savings and payback times. This makes it easier to demonstrate the impact your work will have, and to support any funding requests you make.
- Start measuring and monitoring what you are currently using in terms of energy.
- Create short, medium and long-term actions to ensure that you are looking at quick and easy wins, as well as being ambitious with your bigger plans.
- Don’t underestimate how much time you will need to do this – speaking to other members of staff, reviewing energy data and contacting energy suppliers all takes time. It’s worth investing time in speaking to staff in all departments in your school. Plan in this time.
- Involve teaching members of staff early on. It’s good to have support from all corners. Help staff understand the cost of energy use at school by putting it into comparative figures they can relate to. For example, the cost of support staff hours in relation to the cost of leaving computers on overnight.
- Link the building management staff with the teaching staff to ensure that they are working together to save energy in the school.
- Get students involved – this is a great learning experience for them which they can take into their future education and careers. They are also great at encouraging/nagging staff to switch off their lighting and equipment!
On average, schools that take part in the LESS CO2 programme save 14% of their energy spend in addition to lowering their CO2 emissions. In the coming year, the programme is looking to recruit more schools in areas of social and economic deprivation. In order to really embed best practice in energy saving, Ashden is aiming to deliver the programme to 3000 schools by 2021. Find out more at www.lessco2.org.uk and follow us on Twitter @LESSCO2