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Efficiency in education

As the summer stretches ahead of us, we’ve spotted a welcome emphasis on how schools should be upping the ante on energy efficiency.

Education Executive is reporting that throughout the education sector, there’s an increasing awareness of the benefits of implementing a well-rounded energy efficiency plan.

Crucially, the journal notes that holistic planning is key to sustainable energy in schools.

It writes: ‘For example, many schools begin addressing their energy usage by installing LED lighting; however, a school taking a holistic approach may also consider whether they could install lighting sensors, energy management systems, new insulation, boilers and solar PV within the same project.

‘An added benefit to this approach, on top of the associated high energy savings, is that installing a number of projects at once helps save money on design, installation and labour costs, while also minimising disruption on site.’

This approach matches our experience at Energys, and is especially worthwhile when one considers that soon, the long summer holidays will be with us.

This is an ideal time when schools might consider energy efficiency solutions, with plenty of downtime to get the measures installed and signed off before pupils return to their studies.

A word on the smarter futures schools can imagine is welcome too; ‘Energy waste can also be reduced by updating energy control systems,’ writes the journal.

‘New smart technologies allow for 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 meet their needs in real time.’

Homes efficiency under scrutiny

Less welcome is news that the domestic side of energy efficiency is taking a bash. The Telegraph reports the Government’s effort to bring down the cost of energy by upgrading Britain’s draughtiest homes is under attack, after it emerged that cuts to the scheme mean it would take 400 years to complete.

It seems that, under new plans, ministers intend to slash the pace at which the least efficient households will receive insulation upgrades. Better heat conservation can knock hundreds of pounds a year off electricity and gas bills.

A spokesman for E.On UK, a big six energy supplier, said: “Overall, as a country we need to bring the energy efficiency of homes up to the level that is right for the 21st century, and which could save many hundreds of pounds off the annual energy bill.”

At Energys, we deal with commercial energy efficiency, but that doesn’t mean we take our eyes off the domestic sector. Price caps seem to have taken centre stage here, perhaps at a cost to efficiency.

A refocusing of policy to get Britain’s homes using less heat and electricity would be most welcome.

Can the UK reach net zero emissions by 2050?

The Guardian examines how fit the UK is to truly lead the world on low carbon.

It writes; “More wind farms, solar power and electric cars: these are likely to be the future of the UK, under government plans announced this week to seek a zero-carbon economy in the next 30 years.”

It appears that last month, Government Minister Claire Perry made the surprise announcement that she would ask the Committee on Climate Change, the government’s statutory advisers on climate change, to consider ways the UK could become “net zero-carbon” by 2050.

The commitment was widely interpreted, says The Guardian, as laying the groundwork for a major change to the UK’s long-term climate policy. Currently, ministers are pledged to cutting emissions by 80% by 2050.
And efficiency could play a major role. Dustin Benton, Policy Director at Green Alliance, told the paper; “The government would have to bring forward new measures as a matter of urgency.

“The government has made real progress on some issues, such as diesel cars and offshore wind, but there are glaring holes in areas such as energy efficiency and onshore renewables.”

We will keep an eye on this story, and alert you to any changes. Any re-examination of UK climate policy must deliver energy efficiency as a key player.


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Energy saving technologies for colleges: Why efficient heat and light make for sustainable education too

Right now, the Conservatives are launching reviews into the costs and expenses of the UK university system.

This makes it a very apt moment to remind ourselves how the most energy efficient technologies can save vast amounts of cash across our education hierarchies; cash that if correctly leveraged could potentially help lower the burdens of funding education.

Sensing these benefits, but also the overarching sustainability and CSR wins offered by efficient kit, Public Sector Build Journal (PSBJ) has recently examined the positives of Energys work in London’s BSIX Sixth Form College.

What’s the story, and does it shine a light on wider options for enabling efficiency across our teaching estates nationally?

Top line savings

PSBJ begins by highlighting the key numbers; LED lighting and dynamic boiler controls supplied by Energys at the East London College are predicted to deliver some £25,000 of annual energy savings.

This figure of course does not mention CO2 benefits; the boiler optimisation work alone will offer 28.66 tonnes per year of carbon savings, great for the environment but also for the college’s ongoing carbon reduction work.

In anyone’s book that £25,000 represents serious cash; the figure is a telling reminder that within an environment where UK teaching remains fundamentally pressured when it comes to cash, it’s simple to achieve both financial and CO2 wins that can offer up money to support teaching in other ways.

Bob Herring, Premises Manager of BSIX College, spoke regarding the economics and the positives of the work carried out by Energys.

“We realised that with the latest boiler control and LED lighting systems we could achieve a dramatic reduction in our energy costs,” he comments.

“We wanted to achieve a greener, more carbon efficient college. Thanks to the collaboration with Energys that has been possible; and all in a mere three weeks of work that had very minimal impact on the day to day activities of the school.”

More handy cash on hand

In terms of lighting, return on investment for this project is set at four years, while the return period for the total investment will be around two years. Remember, after this, the installation starts making money for the college.

“We’re delighted with the work that has taken place at BSIX.” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“Clearly, this is a sixth form college and not a university. But here’s an example of an energy efficiency project that’s offering up £25,000 per year to an educational facility and delivering massive CO2 wins as well.

“It seems to me that in the wider debate over tuition fees, we might perhaps want to be thinking about where and why the overall costs of teaching, in all its forms, can be massively assisted by energy efficient tech.

“And surely we ought to be teaching our children this lesson too; that energy efficiency not only helps our planet; it can help fund our children’s growth and learning.”


Energy Group specialises in energy saving technologies for schools and colleges.  Please drop us a line if you’d like to chat about how we can reduce energy costs at your education establishment.

Additional Salix interest-free finance available for FE Colleges

Leading low carbon retrofit company, Energys Group, is urging Further Education colleges in England to take advantage of additional funds for investment in energy-efficiency upgrades, available from Salix Finance. The fast-approaching deadline for applications for the extended funding is the end of February 2018.

Energy-saving projects

A broad range of over 100 energy-saving upgrades is covered by this round of Salix funding, and can support programmes of work that may span multiple years. Since its launch in 2014, the programme has funded energy-efficiency projects in over 50 FE colleges, resulting in estimated annual savings of over £1.6m.

Applying for the fund

Information about how to apply for the new FE College funding is available on the Salix website. We have also produced a step-by-step guide which outlines how to complete a Salix loan application. The guide contains information on the applications process and how to meet the project criteria.

“Retrofit technologies, such as LED lighting, T5 lighting upgrades and boiler optimisation technologies represent energy-saving quick wins for many FE colleges,” advises Kevin Cox, Managing Director of Energys Group.

“Salix funding provides a great opportunity for colleges to invest in these technologies without the usual financial risk.

“Anyone who needs more information in order to understand the process of applying for an interest-free loan through Salix should consider turning to a specialist organisation such as Energys for advice,” says Kevin Cox.

“There are only a few weeks left until the deadline for this round of funding and colleges will need to have all their energy data on hand to produce a quality application.”

For help and advice on how to take advantage of Salix finance for retrofit energy-saving upgrades, contact Energys Group today.

Energys Group works with WSCC Purple Bus team to encourage young people’s passion for engineering, design and racing

The Billingshurst-based energy solutions group has been working with West Sussex County Council’s Youth Service to support two Purple Bus teams from Storrington and Petworth Youth Groups, which have been taking part in the Greenpower Trust F24 international competition.

The teams worked hard throughout the season to design, build and develop two electric racing cars to race against teams from across the region, and ultimately qualify for the international competition at Rockingham Raceway.

Following practice sessions and their first competitive race at Goodwood, the teams had time to refine and develop improvements to the car, and to improve how well they worked together as a team, before entering their second race at Dunsfold Park. There was then a painful wait for results from elsewhere to find out whether they had qualified for the International Finals, over the weekend of 6-8 October.

However, they weren’t content to sit around, hoping for good news. During the wait, the teams researched engine performance improvements; visiting Shoreham’s Ricardo Engineering to get every bit of guidance and information they could to improve their cars’ performance. Then, two weeks before the final, the teams found out that both cars had qualified.

Dan Sneller, Project Manager for the Purple Bus, says, “Having worked with these young people since March 2017 it has been great to see them develop as a group and individually. We set them the task of researching what Greenpower Trust is and what other teams do. We worked with them to explore group dynamics and group roles, looking at what it means to be a part of a successful team.

“One of the team’s tasks was to plan for the International Final, in preparation for qualifying. They had a set budget which they had to allocate for accommodation and food for the weekend. It became very clear to them that the budget provided them was not enough and they had to look elsewhere to gain extra sponsorship. This was something I had planned to develop their problem-solving skills and encourage them to approach local business for support. The Energys Group was amazing at supporting the young people throughout this, helping them to a very successful international final, in which they placed 53rd in the world – which was an outstanding achievement and one they should be very proud of.”

Energys Group’s Managing Director Kevin Cox commented, “We have been thrilled to support the fantastic work done by the Purple Bus kit car teams throughout their design, build and racing in the Greenpower Trust’s annual challenge. We’re so proud of them for qualifying for the international final and for their outstanding result. Young engineers are the future for innovation in so many fields, including ours in energy solutions and we look forward to seeing these pupils develop their careers in science and engineering.”

Energys Group are experts in delivering energy efficient technologies. We’d be delighted to talk about any of the issues and themes covered in this article. Give us a call for a chat.

Lighting the way to happier school children

The right classroom lighting can have a dramatic effect on children’s school experience

September is here and the new school year begins with a flurry of crisp new uniform, freshly stocked pencil cases and diligently labelled clothes.  This week, teachers, headteachers and leadership teams will be welcoming new ‘ kindergarteners’ at the school gates for the first time and looking forward to helping returning pupils settle into senior years, it’s a time of new beginnings.

Many parents and schools will also be busy thinking ahead, planning for the influx of new pupils joining in the next year’s intake. As the deadline for 2018 applications approaches, parents will be comparing class sizes, Ofsted reports, reputations and the quality of the pastoral care. While within school buildings, staff will be looking over forthcoming refurbishment, building and maintenance programmes, improving the quality of the learning environment itself and acknowledging the massive impact it has on children’s sponge-like brains.

Modern classrooms – flexible, welcoming and healthier

Today’s classroom experience is virtually unrecognisable from what it was 20 years ago – pupils are no longer restricted to traditional desks, laid out in inflexible rows under the glare of flickering fluorescent lights. Instead, teaching is immersive and interactive, with children working together in clusters. And huge advances have been made in the way we illuminate our classrooms too; there are many ways schools can dramatically improve a child’s experience by ditching fluorescent lighting in favour of modern LEDs.

Ditch the strips

On a basic level, a classroom or library lit with evenly diffused, LED lighting looks like a significantly more inviting space than one illuminated by glaring fluorescent strips. Traditional fluorescent lighting flickers, which is thought to be tiring on the eye and be a possible cause of headaches. LED lighting doesn’t have these unpleasant side effects.

Schools which have phased out traditional fluorescent strip lights in favour of adaptable LED lighting often report dramatic improvements in pupil concentration, behaviour and of course, performance. Modern LED lighting more closely mimics daylight, which helps children’s eyes work more efficiently and means they get less tired.

The result? They’ll find reading easier and more enjoyable. A study in Hamburg showed that using the right lighting increased the reading speed by over a third.

Colour control

A massive benefit of modern LED lighting is that the colour and intensity can be adjusted throughout the day, to suit pupils’ evolving needs and get the best out of them depending on their activity.

A brighter light can be used early in the day or during tests, to stimulate the circadian rhythm, make children alert and boost their concentration – studies in South Korea show that children achieved higher scores under bright LED lighting than under fluorescent strips. During break time or in after school care, LED lighting can be adjusted to a warmer temperature, creating a more relaxing atmosphere and soothing restless youngsters.

Better for pupils, staff and budgets

Let’s not forget the teachers! The more optimised their working environment, the better their classes will be. As Raj Gunasekaran, Business Development Manager at Energys Group, says: “Improved lighting often translates to happier pupils and staff, meaning increased productivity and quality of work.”

LED lighting can easily be installed in modern schools and retrofitted in older buildings with minimum disruption. Long term, it also has big cost savings. Schools don’t need a big budget to install new lighting. Projects that improve an institute’s energy efficiency qualify for interest-free Government funding, through Salix Finance.