Cardiff Council has invested over £1.3 million in energy saving upgrades across 11 of its primary, secondary and Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools, as part of its work to be carbon neutral by 2030.
The initiatives are set to drastically reduce the council’s operational carbon emissions by up to 20% across the 11 sites - Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern, Bryn Celyn Primary School, Glyncoed Primary School, Hywel Dda Primary School, Llandaff City C.I.W. Primary School, Llanishen High School, Mary Immaculate High School, Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Plasmawr, St Illtyd’s High School, The Bishop of Llandaff C.I.W. High School, and Ty Gwyn Special School - as well as save an estimated £185,000 a year.
Pupils will learn about the benefits of the works, including the enhanced lighting levels and health benefits from the removal of existing fluorescent lighting through planned engagement sessions with the schools’ eco teams.
Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Sarah Merry said: “Schools form some of the largest energy users on our estate so upgrading technologies within them is an important part of our energy reduction strategy. In the face of the climate emergency, continuing to invest in these types of projects, continuing to make our energy choices as smart as possible is clearly the right thing to do.”
The works were delivered by the council through the Re:fit procurement initiative, supported by Local Partnerships LLP and funded through Salix Finance, a UK government-funded organisation which provides interest-free loans to the public sector for energy efficiency projects.
As part of the project, a range of new energy efficient technologies have been installed across the schools including LED lighting upgrades, solar panels, fridge and freezer controls, valve and pipework insulation, as well as new Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), which optimise building controls and energy usage.
The new technologies will deliver reduced consumption and operational carbon savings year on year over the course of their lifetime. The Salix Finance loan will be paid back over ten years from the savings made on energy bills, making the funding self-sufficient. Once the loan is repaid the continued savings will be able to be used for budget priorities.
Liam Gillard, Wales programme manager at Salix Finance added: “Working on this important project covering 11 schools, in the capital of Wales has been brilliant. The energy efficiency works that have been installed will significantly benefit the pupils, the staff, the city and of course the planet. We look forward to supporting further retrofit schemes as the council delivers their One Planet Cardiff strategy.”
The investments form part of Cardiff Council’s ambitious One Planet Strategy – a response to the climate emergency which aims to make the local authority carbon neutral by 2030. The strategy has already led to the completion of a 9MW solar farm at Lamby Way as well as the start of construction work on a low carbon district heating network and the planting of thousands of trees across the council. Future plans include further retrofit schemes, sustainable drainage systems and new build net zero carbon buildings.
Work on the school retrofit project has just completed, after starting in July 2021. Following its success, Cardiff Council is looking to invest in additional retrofit upgrades programmes across its estate portfolio, in line with the One Planet Cardiff strategy.
Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Cllr Caro Wild, said: “We’re determined to achieve our aim of being a carbon neutral council by 2030 and over recent years we have already invested in a number of significant initiatives, such as beginning the electrification of our fleet, developing our network of cycleways and bringing forward plans for a low carbon District Heating Network, to support these goals. We’ve also been working with Salix Finance since 2017 to implement various energy reduction projects, all aimed at drastically cutting our energy usage and slashing our carbon emissions.”
To find out more about the funding available for public sector organisations in Wales from Salix Finance, visit www.salixfinance.co.uk or contact the Salix Wales team on [email protected]