Energy consumption is an increasingly important consideration for public sector organisations as they look to reduce expenditure and minimise environmental impact. With this in mind it is key to identify affordable energy-reduction strategies reducing costs and emissions.
There are a number of cost-effective options available to public sector organisations to help them reduce their energy consumption and improve their sustainability. Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council chose to undertake a transformational energy efficiency project with the support of Salix Finance.
The project involved the installation of 11 different technologies including LED lighting, Building Energy Management Systems, Insulation and Solar PV. Instillations took place across four schools in the borough: Castleton Primary School, Moorhouse Primary School, Siddal Moor Sports College and St Mary’s Church of England Primary School. These technologies are predicted to decrease the local authority’s energy costs by over £27,500 per year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 131 tonnes* annually. They will also help to improve the learning environment for more than 1,820 students.
Upgrading heating systems and engaging with the issue of wasted energy through heat loss is an effective way of reducing energy consumption and creating savings. As part of Rochdale MBC’s project, cavity wall and pipework insulation were installed to reduce heat loss and subsequently reduce energy use. The cavity wall insulation alone was predicted to decrease energy consumption across the schools by an impressive 90,958 kWh per year.
Thermostatic radiator valves were also fitted throughout the schools to regulate radiator temperatures and provide the correct level of localised heating in every room. Additionally the use of ventilation controls will reduce consumption in unoccupied zones. Similarly, time clocks on water heaters will ensure hot water is only generated when required during the school day, and not at night or weekends. Furthermore, to ensure the buildings operate at an optimum level of efficiency, brand-new Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) were installed in each school.
Including energy efficient lighting in efficiency projects is another effective way of saving energy. As part of the project, over 300 inefficient T12 and T8 fluorescent light fittings, which no longer provided effective lighting to classrooms, were replaced with more modern, reliable and efficient LED fittings. This helped to create a more comfortable working environment for students and staff.
The addition, the controls will also ensure lighting is only used when it is needed. The resulting reduction in use is predicted to reduce energy bills by around £7,500 annually. Lastly, solar panels were also added for more cost-effective and renewable energy.
In total, the improvements are estimated to save the council approximately £500,000 over the lifetime of the technologies. As well as the immediate financial savings made from lower energy bills, the upgrades also have the added benefit of reduced general maintenance costs.
Clive Maynock, Site Manager at Castleton Primary School, one of the schools to benefit from the programme, said: “I can honestly say the school is very happy with the project and we are already seeing great benefits. The LED lights are a huge improvement on the old fittings, which were very worn and becoming slightly dangerous to change, providing much brighter and efficient lighting. As the old lights were often left on for the whole school day, the new lighting sensors have also been very successful, helping to eliminate this problem.
“The improvements to the heating system are also noticeable, allowing for a warm and comfortable environment for staff and students to be maintained at all times. All the improvements will significantly reduce running costs for the school and we are very thankful to the council and Salix for enabling this project to happen.”
Lindsay Torrence, Headteacher at Castleton Primary School said, “Our school is a Victorian building that has lots of space and light but is challenging to maintain. We were lucky enough to be able to work with Rochdale Council to apply for two Salix loans, the first was for roof-space insulation above our false ceilings was a few years ago and proved to be very successful in saving energy and it was work we could not have afforded under our own steam due to the extensive nature of our building.
“The success of this project led us to apply for a much more ambitious and extensive Salix loan to remove all the fluorescent lighting and replace it all with LED lighting with automatic control sensors, insulate exposed pipework, time clocks on our three water heaters, and 40 solar panels. We saw impact almost straight away in terms of the quality of the light in the classrooms. The most exciting part was the installation of the solar panels and the ability to actually generate our own energy- the children are really excited about this!
“The work was undertaken very efficiently and managed very well by Rochdale Council and Salix. Altogether the Salix loan has proved invaluable to our school in helping to make it more energy efficient, and enabled money saving to go to other areas that benefit our children. We would not have been able to achieve this without Salix and the partnership with Rochdale Council.”
David Hughes, Senior Engineer (Electrical) at Highways, Property & Strategic Housing added: “This project has been hugely successful. Lighting levels within the classrooms have greatly improved thanks to the upgrade, helping to improve reading and writing for pupils, while from a maintenance point of view, the new fittings have eliminated the issue of flickering lights previously experienced. The LED lighting and the new PIR sensors will also significantly reduce the running costs for the school.”
The energy improvements were made possible thanks to more than £192,000 worth of interest-free funding from Salix Finance - an independent, government-funded organisation which provides 100% interest-free loans to the public sector to increase its energy efficiency.
The project was delivered as part of Salix’s Switching to Low Energy (SLE) pilot scheme, a partnership between Salix Finance, the Department for Education and the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. The scheme was designed to identify the full range of energy efficiency technologies by providing schools with a comprehensive energy survey. This enabled the schools to reduce their energy usage to the lowest possible level.
The council will repay the cost of the project over the course of seven years from the savings recouped from the reduced energy bills, meaning the Salix loan is entirely cost neutral.
Once the loan is repaid, the council will continue to benefit from the annual savings, and the repayments made to Salix will be recycled to fund further projects in the public sector.
For more information on the funding available from Salix, please see: www.salixfinance.co.uk