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Why is so much energy wasted in schools and how can costs and carbon emissions be reduced?

John Treble, Director of The Green Consultancy, a subsidiary of JRP Solutions.

Upgrading school4_john-treble-03jun19 - Peter Hawtin - peterh estates to achieve net zero-carbon and reduce energy costs is a serious challenge because typically schools have a wide range of building types of different ages. It is also a major cost saving opportunity because most school energy infrastructure is old and inefficient. Before looking at how to go about improvements, however, it is worth considering how so much energy is wasted and why previous attempts at improvement may have failed.

Optimising the energy efficiency of buildings is the number one opportunity for cutting energy costs and reducing carbon emissions. Done properly, savings of the order of 20-50 percent can be achieved with commercially attractive paybacks. 4_school-2 - Peter Hawtin - peterhSo why has this so rarely been achieved? Admittedly, it is not easy to get right. It is essential to correctly identify and prioritise what to do, and what not to do, before making changes. Seemingly obvious solutions are often seriously suboptimal, or even make matters worse, if the underlying causes are not properly understood.

Understanding the causes demands a forensic study. To accurately determine where savings can be made you first have to find out what is not working efficiently, by how much and why. It is essential to ensure that the actual energy efficiencies are measured.

For more information and advice on how to save energy in schools, read the full article ‘Saving energy – towards Net Zero carbon’ published in the summer 2020 issue of the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association magazine.