Energys Explains: Helping Church of England schools reach their Net Zero target

If you’re an estates manager or bursar and you want to understand HOW to meet the Church of England’s ambitious net zero target, keep reading

The Church of England’s General Synod has set a target for all parts of the church, including its 4700 educational institutions, to become net zero by 2030 – 15 years ahead of its original proposal.

The pressure is ON to take action and ramp up efforts to reduce emissions year on year.

We’re actively helping the UK’s education sector make their buildings more energy efficient. Whilst taking action of climate change may seem a complicated affair, it needn’t be.

If you’re an estates director or manager, facilities manager, governor or bursar and you want to understand HOW to meet the Church of England’s ambitious target, then keep reading. We’ve answered some of the frequently asked questions to help you on the road to net zero.  

What is a zero-carbon school?

A zero-carbon school is one that through its buildings and activities does not contribute to climate change through carbon emissions. The Church of England is using key impact areas including energy use, travel, waste, water, procurement, food and school grounds within its target for reaching net zero by 2030. 

How do I find out my school’s carbon footprint?

Becoming net zero by 2030 is a huge challenge. Understanding the carbon footprint of a building (or buildings) provides a baseline from which action can be taken to reduce carbon emissions.

The Church of England’s own Energy Footprint Tool (EFT) encourages schools to record their carbon footprint, based on the energy, heating and lighting use of their buildings. Using the tool will help schools keep track of the impact of the different steps being taken to reduce the buildings carbon footprint.

How can my school reduce the carbon impact of its buildings?

Improving the fabric of school buildings is a powerful tool in reducing their overall carbon impact. To reduce carbon emissions, schools are being encouraged to seek out low-cost solutions ranging from draught proofing, glazing or upgrading LED lighting.

There are a range of options available which will reduce the carbon impact of both new and existing buildings. For example, schools and their responsible bodies are being encouraged to think about replacing outdated and inefficient building systems with more energy efficient solutions. For example, installing intelligent boiler controls can improve the efficiency of heating systems, without affecting the temperature of the building. It is a simple retrofit upgrade that unlocks instant carbon savings. 

What happens if we wait few months?

The cost of energy is rising very significantly right now. The UK’s energy crisis isn’t just affecting the supply of fuel at petrol stations, it’s causing big issues on the wholesale market. Some commentators think this could mean a 30% increase in energy bills. Unless your school is on a very long term fixed energy tariff – this is likely to affect you very soon indeed. We’re urging school business managers to take action on energy efficiency now – as demand reduction is going to be vital for your budgets moving forward.

How can my school improve its energy management?

Lowering energy use and ensuring buildings are energy efficient are the main routes to reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

For schools looking to improve their energy management, our EnergysMeter may be the perfect tool. It’s a live monitoring tool for measuring and verifying energy consumption. It provides a detailed overview of exactly how – and where – energy is being used to help users take control of energy costs. With EnergysMeter schools can interrogate electricity consumption by a whole host of variables – from headcount to area and by time of day. By analysing powerful ‘before and after’ comparisons, schools can make data-led decisions on systems adjustments. 

Are there any other benefits of carrying out energy efficient projects in schools?

Yes. Take LED lighting upgrades as an example. Not only will it significantly reduce emissions, it will also vastly improve the quality of light in the classrooms. This leads to step-changes in wellbeing for teachers and pupils. Modern, efficient, quality LED lighting has been proven to increase productivity, participation, concentration and learning when compared to fluorescent or incandescent light bulbs.

Lighting upgrades can also bring emergency lighting up to standard and reduce operational and maintenance costs.

Is there anything my CoE school can do to manage indoor ventilation in an energy efficient way?

Air pollution is one of the UK’s biggest public health challenges damaging quality of life and leading to a shortening of life for many people. Several studies have also linked poor air quality to lower educational outcomes.

Within our technology portfolio, we offer a technology that not only filters viruses, bacteria, particulate matter (down to PM2.5), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), smoke and pollen, it destroys them in the process leading to a continual clean air flow without the toxic by-products of other air cleaning technologies. In fact, it is proven to kill 99.95% of all airborne bacteria and viruses, including Human Coronavirus,

As the colder winter months take hold, we are urging schools to adopt our GojiAir technology; it is proven to keep classrooms safer WITHOUT the need for windows to be open at all times. This ensures classrooms are kept at a comfortable ambient temperature – and energy bills under control.

Is there any funding for energy efficiency upgrades in CoE schools?

In today’s financial climate, research shows that a lack of investment capital is often the greatest barrier to achieving carbon reduction objectives. You may be able to take advantage of funding mechanisms such as the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (now in Phase 3).

At Energys Group we believe in removing these barriers and have a range of funding solutions for schools – we’re here to help find the right one for each individual project. For example, we offer a Fully Compliant Operating Lease tailored to the needs of schools and colleges. Using our fully compliant flexible operating lease can help your CoE educational establishments to install our technologies and GojiAir system without the need for capital investment.

Where can I find out more?

Energys Group has years of experience working with carbon conscious schools seeking to reduce their impact on the environment. To see how we can help you, take a look at some of our case studies. Whatever your school or college needs, we provide support at every stage of your carbon reduction journey. Want to know more? Contact us today.

Energys Horizon Scan – October ‘21: As winter approaches, what’s on the UK energy efficiency agenda?

As winter approaches, what's on the UK energy efficiency agenda? We investigate in our October Energys Horizon Scan...

UK energy crisis

First this month, it would be remiss not to comment upon the UK’s energy woes. Stories abound across the media surrounding gas prices, energy bills and indeed fossil shortages in the form of transport fuels shortfalls.

The Guardian writes that a perfect storm of market forces threatens to rip through the economy from home energy suppliers to heavy industry, and from factories to farmers.

Economic bounce back from Covid and global gas supply issues, combined with the UK’s stark reliance on gas appear largely to blame.

But the impact of the energy crisis will not be contained to rising energy bills and struggling suppliers. Large steelmakers, chemical factories and manufacturers are all vulnerable to the impact of energy costs and are already feeling the financial pain of the energy price shock.

The Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), Energy Live News reports, has called on the UK government to act urgently on the escalating crisis in the domestic energy market.

The group, which represents the interests of intensive industrial energy consumers, including manufacturers of steel, chemicals, paper and glass has proposed a series of ‘urgent measures’ to ensure that industries continue to operate this winter.

EIUG wants winter cost containment measures on gas, electricity and carbon prices to help industries continue producing essential goods. It also suggests that Ofgem should replicate the tariff discounts which are available in competitor industries in Europe.

The Energys view

Kevin Cox, our Managing Director, makes his own analysis. “As the UK’s decarbonisation journey continues, bumps in the road are to be expected. We have successfully shifted off coal, but we have massive gas reliance.

“Decarbonisation can’t happen overnight, so whilst we await the government’s chosen options of nuclear and renewables to upscale, we have to minimise the energy we use.

“This is why energy efficiency is so important. It’s essential in the long term anyway, but in transitional times it minimises exposure to supply chain and spikes by limiting the energy we use in the first place. Our own work in this field – including the completion of over 70 projects under the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) – shows what can be done.”

Funding opportunities

Talking of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), Phase 3 of this programme opened on October 6th. This programme provides grants for public sector bodies to fund heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures. Our message to eligible organisations – particularly to those that undertook (or, commissioned) a heat decarbonisation plan in the previous phases of PSDS, is to act swiftly – and to start a conversation with us to see how we can help. One thing you might not have spotted is that under Phase 3, there is no published limit on the size of the fund (this will be confirmed after the Autumn Spending Review).

According to PSDS administrators, Salix, the priority for Phase 3 PSDS is to provide funding for decarbonisation projects where the heating systems are at the end of their working lives and there is imminent need for replacement, therefore the majority of the 2022/23 grant funding has been set aside for projects that need to take place between Friday 1st April 2022 and Friday 31st March 2023.  It’s been made very clear that applicants will need to “ensure they have the necessary resources and suppliers in place, required to deliver the project by the agreed dates.”

If your organisation wants to discuss how we may be able to help – then please do get in touch.

More on funding… IETF

In other funding news, the Government has announced its Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF) Phase 2: Autumn 2021 funding is being deployed.

It offers grant funding for feasibility and engineering studies, and for the deployment of industrial energy efficiency and deep decarbonisation projects.

Up to £60 million of grant funding for feasibility and engineering studies will enable companies to investigate identified energy efficiency and decarbonisation projects, prior to making an investment decision, plus deployment of technologies to reduce industrial energy consumption.

Money is also available for deep decarbonisation technologies to achieve industrial emissions savings. Applications for all streams close Monday 6 December 2021, apply here.

Office energy ratings

EDIE reports that a new energy rating scheme for UK offices has launched, in a bid to help businesses reach Net Zero  by bridging the gap between the design and in-use energy performance of their buildings.

NABERS UK, EDIE writes, was introduced in November 2020 to help address performance gaps in current energy efficiency ratings that don’t necessarily account for the difference between design intentions and actual, real-world operational performance.

Managed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) the scheme replicates the well-established NABERS Australian rating scheme and currently provides energy efficiency ratings for office buildings across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Importantly, NABERS UK measures and verifies recorded energy usage from existing buildings, rather than estimates, to provide more accurate energy performance data for building owners. Additionally, NABERS UK also covers a Design for Performance (DfP) framework for developers that can help in putting actual energy performance targets to work.  This scheme is one to watch, for sure.

And finally… Business way behind on Net Zero

EDIE also covers important analysis that 17 of the UK’s biggest sectors are recording either stable or increasing emissions, jeopardising the nation’s chance of meeting Net Zero by 2050.

The report states that, collectively, the 17 business sectors will need to mitigate 382 megatonnes of CO2e by 2035 to align with the UK’s Sixth Carbon Budget. They are likely to deliver cuts of just 131 megatonnes, 34% of this figure.

To solve the problem, the report calls for larger scale investment in key low carbon technologies and infrastructure, plus guarantees that incentives are long term and consistent, to give businesses the confidence they need.

It also recommends that the Government takes the lead in developing a standardised carbon accounting methodology that properly reflects emissions across the value chain.