Taking a Holistic Approach to Energy Efficiency in Schools

Submitted by Salix on Wed, 14/02/2018 - 15:46

There is significant opportunity for schools to become more involved in their environmental impact and to create a sustainable site for staff, pupils and parents.

Taking a holistic approach to energy efficiency can dramatically reduce energy and maintenance costs, lower a school’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve the learning environment.

What is a Holistic Approach?

A holistic approach is taking a long-term view to energy efficiency rather than focussing on quick wins. Holistic projects consider installing a wide range of energy efficiency technologies as opposed to focusing on a single type. For example, rather than only installing LED lighting, a school taking a holistic approach would also consider whether they could install new insulation, boilers, energy management systems and solar PV within the same project.

A holistic approach also includes behaviour changes. As part of a holistic project, schools would also consider ways to inspire and influence the staff and students to be more mindful of the energy they use, also making day-to-day operations more efficient. Popular ideas to influence behaviour change include establishing an environmental awareness club to engage the students, installing software to automatically shut-down IT equipment or running a ‘switch off’ campaign to make sure all equipment is switched off when not in use. 

Benefits for the School

The advantages of taking a holistic approach to energy efficiency and renewable generation in schools are extensive. There are several reasons why this approach is an effective solution for schools:

Schools can see a much more dramatic reduction in their energy usage and therefore energy bills, than with using a single technology approach. Disruption to the site will also be minimised if all projects are installed at once, rather than over a period of years.

High energy usage in schools is often due to high levels of energy wastage. For example, consider a school with old buildings and an inefficient oil boiler. Updating the boiler to a more efficient gas boiler will save energy and reduce energy bills and running costs. If, however, the building insulation is not improved as well, the school will continue to have a higher heating load than is necessary. If boiler and insulation is combined, the school will therefore see the maximum benefit both in terms of energy consumption, carbon footprint and an improvement to the learning environment.

Updating the energy control technology can also help to reduce the energy wastage. Additionally, smarter monitoring of energy usage can also help to identify where energy is being wasted, eliminating unnecessary energy use.  New smarter technologies allow more precise control, especially if combined with an energy management system. This gives schools the ability to quickly, easily and often automatically adjust their energy systems to adapt to the needs of the school in real time.

Using a holistic approach when applying to Salix

Salix funds up to an 8-year payback. This means that Salix can fully fund projects where the technologies pay for themselves through the energy savings within an 8 year period. . If the payback is longer than 8 years Salix is able to part-fund the project. If a holistic approach is taken, then Salix can typically fund a greater proportion of the project than if each of the technologies were applied for individually. For example, a LED lighting project was predicted to pay back in 4 years and a boiler project in 12 years. If applied for as separate projects Salix would be able to fully fund the LED project but only fund part of the boiler project. If the school had taken a holistic approach and combined the projects into a single application, Salix would look at the average payback and be able to fully fund both projects.

Applying for a range of measures in one application will also save schools time and give the opportunity to make greater savings.

Where to Begin

If you would like more information, or are interested in making an application, please get in touch with the Schools team [email protected] or visit the Salix website www.salixfinance.co.uk/loans/maintained-schools-and-sixth-form-colleges

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