International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Ceri Williams, Schools Energy & Finance Officer, Torfaen Council

Submitted by Seemac on Tue, 09/02/2021 - 11:27


Council-led Climate Action and STEM learning in Local Schools

Public sector organisations across Wales are taking the lead in climate action as they look to substantially reduce their carbon footprint and install a range of energy efficiency technologies across their estate. 

Torfaen Borough Council in South Wales has supported its local schools by installing a range of energy efficiency measures, collectively reducing emissions by 672,360 tonnes of carbon and £151,760 per year. Ceri Williams, Schools Energy and Finance Officer at the Council, has over 20 years' experience in the energy sector. Throughout her career, she has worked in both the public and private sector. Prior to her role at Torfaen Borough Council, Ceri worked for Caerphilly Council for 10 years. 

In her role at Torfaen Borough Council, Ceri has supported 32 local schools, working hard to ensure climate action is at the forefront of their agenda.

Here, Ceri explains how she has helped multiple schools within the council to invest in energy-saving technologies using the Wales Funding Programme and encouraged science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning with pupils.

Identifying energy-saving projects for schools in the council

Ceri said: “I enjoy making a difference to schools by helping to reduce their energy use and making the most of their energy savings. I help schools to identify any inefficient technologies which need replacing by looking at the schools’ energy consumption over a 2-year period for any significant increase or anomalies in their energy costs. Schools are keen on finding cost savings, advice and ideas in how to engage their pupils in the sustainability agenda.”

“Salix funding has allowed me to implement LED lighting, lighting controls, boiler replacements, building energy management systems (BEMS), loft insulation, pool covers and street lighting projects throughout both Caerphilly Council and Torfaen Council with no capital outlay required from the client.”

“I’m most proud of the recent sixteen replacement LED lighting and automatic lighting controls, and eight boiler replacement and eight BEMS projects throughout schools, which have taken place over the last three years. These projects have significantly reduced carbon and achieved financial savings of over £2.6 million over the technology's lifetime, which has helped schools extensively with the financial strain upon them.”

Encouraging STEM learning

As well as offering site visits, Ceri has been engaging the schools by offering presentations and interactive workshops for pupils to learn about energy savings. 

“Eco clubs have been set up across several schools now and competitions are held where pupils present numerical evidence of the energy savings they have achieved for the school. For example, during November we held a ‘switch off fortnight’ campaign where students go round switching appliances off to save energy. Pupils love showing how they have made a difference and are rewarded by the teachers and headteachers with a certificate and Bronze, Silver, Gold or platinum Eco-Awards.”

Ceri’s top tips for engaging pupils with energy efficiency projects  

Presentations and interactive workshops to pupils on climate change and creating Eco clubs on energy awareness can encourage learning. 

Schools can be provided with training on how to access metering information on their energy savings. The schools’ energy data can be used as part of the school’s sustainability curriculum. I recommend installing an Automated Meter Reading (AMR) device for a better understanding of their energy use, this is also a great learning tool for pupils.

Involve pupils in competitions such as mini switch off walks, allow them to present to the staff during assembly with evidence of what savings they have achieved for their school and provide awards to pupils for their energy-saving efforts.

A net-zero future

Future plans for the council involve installing several exciting projects along with on-going training for new staff and pupils. Ceri envisages implementing LED and BEMS in schools, as well as controls on boilers where these have not been installed. The council is also looking at loft insulation, Solar PV combined with battery storage and heat pumps, which has the potential to provide significant savings and address heat decarbonisation.

Applying to Salix 

The Wales Funding Programme provides a solution where everyone benefits, including the school. There is no capital outlay required to replace inefficient technologies with a payback of under eight years.

1.    Visit the Wales Funding Programme page here
2.    Download and complete the application form with project details
3.    Obtain sign off from the sponsoring director
4.    Submit the application to [email protected]
5.    Salix will carry out a technical assessment & award funding

To find out more about the Wales Funding programme and funding for schools click here or contact the Salix team at [email protected]