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.

The Energys Group January 2018 horizon scan: EU ups the ante on buildings energy efficiency standards

At Energys Group, we are constantly monitoring global work on energy efficiency. And we’d like to draw your attention to a change at EU level that many of us may have missed in the Christmas build up.

On December 19, while most of us were pondering what Santa might deliver, the EU delivered a different kind of present.

Reuters reports that the Union has created new rules on energy standards for all new public buildings, plus improvements for existing buildings, which account for considerable EU greenhouse gas emissions.

“The fight against climate change starts ‘at home’, given that over a third of [the] EU’s emissions [are] produced by buildings. By renovating and making them smart, we are catching several birds with one stone: energy bills, people’s health, and the environment,” Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said in a statement.

The new rules, which aim to boost energy performance across the public sector and encourage renovations aimed at creating more energy-efficient buildings, are most welcome.

But at home, we can’t say for sure whether the EU’s move will make differences in the UK as 2018 progresses.

The key is the Great Repeal Bill. The BBC explains that this critical plank of legislation has reached the committee stage in the House of Commons, which is where there will probably be many attempts by MPs to change its wording.

The idea is that all existing EU legislation will be copied across into domestic UK law, to ensure a smooth transition on the day after Brexit.

So, theoretically at least, now the EU has raised its standards on efficiency, there’s no reason why these new rules shouldn’t remain in place here after Brexit too.

This would be a real positive for energy efficiency in the UK public sector. We already have Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards delivering real change across rented properties. If we can embed EU-derived laws to raise the bar on new public buildings, and renovate existing schools and hospitals, we can massively improve the quality of our public services and increase our transition to low carbon.

At Energys, we hope these new EU standards make it into UK law as Brexit progresses.

What exactly will the new EU rules do?

The EU package creates a clear path towards low and zero emissions building stock by 2050, underpinned by national roadmaps to decarbonise buildings.

First, it encourages the use of information and communication technology (ICT) and smart technologies to ensure buildings operate efficiently, by introducing automation and control systems.

Additionally, it introduces a ‘smartness indicator’ which will measure buildings’ capacity to use new technologies and electronic systems to optimise operation and interact with the grid.

Given the Government’s determination to update and reinvent a smarter UK grid, we feel sure these new EU efficiency changes should make it into UK law. And because EU member states determine their own internal laws on top level standards like these, we could take the measures even further if we have the will.

Let’s be sure our sector as a whole continues to advocate, and ensure this EU efficiency reform package doesn’t get swept under the Brexit carpet.

The final word

January is generally a quiet time, as the sector gets back to work and looks forward to a year of promise. But this EU news, delivered quietly before Christmas, is a real reason to celebrate.

Let’s use the EU lead to push for a more radical, disruptive, energy efficient UK public sector as Brexit deadlines draw ever nearer.


We hope you enjoyed this article? See more of energy policy articles here. Please drop us a line if you’d like to chat about any of the issues and themes covered or to find out more about our energy saving technologies.

The Energys explainer: How to detect costly compressed air leaks

Many businesses rely on air treatment systems, or use compressed air in other parts of their operations, from wrenches to spray guns or desiccant machinery.

In all these examples, compressed air leaks are a serious problem. A compressed air leak of just 3mm diameter can cost more than £700 a year in wasted energy, and that figure is generally even greater for gasses, says The Carbon Trust.

With this in mind, it’s essential to investigate the best solutions to finding, preventing and fixing air leakage in your facilities.

What you can do to combat air leakage

Energys offers reliable, non-intrusive surveys to help you remove compressed air and other gas leaks. Our comprehensive solutions use a digital probe to listen to pipework and machinery, to identify costly problems.

Remember; the savings identified are typically around £700 per leak, per year.

Just as importantly, while checking air integrity, our engineers can find out if the bearings in your machinery are under or over-lubricated, and detect the earliest stage of bearing failure.

This makes our surveys an essential tool for planning preventative maintenance works. Since over-lubricated bearings mean that their life expectancy is reduced, correcting this problem can also reduce machinery costs.

Comprehensive, detailed reporting

Following each survey, we produce a report, which identifies the costs of each problem and the remedial works that need to be undertaken.

“Energys reports are reliable, honest and easy to understand,” says Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys. “We know the real damage that air leakage can do to your business.

“This impacts in terms of cost and reliability, but it also impacts in terms of your reputation and whether you’re keen to be seen as an energy-efficient, sustainable firm.”

Act on energy waste immediately

More information on our comprehensive site-survey to detect air leaks and other faults is available here.

And don’t forget, there are all kinds of other areas in which Energys can help deliver improved energy efficiency, and hence real cash savings, across your estate.

All of the energy saving technology we offer is detailed here. It’s well worth taking a moment to consider how we can help your organisation achieve a truly futurist, energy efficient operation. Contact us for advice on the most cost-effective solutions for your organisation.

New report says energy efficiency is not just needed; it’s essential

A new report from the Royal Academy of Engineering says, ‘Improving energy efficiency and resource productivity needs to be a priority.’ The paper definitively reveals just how key efficiency is for a resilient, effective UK.

The report, a collaboration of 38 organisations, forms the engineering profession’s collective response to the government’s green paper on industrial strategy. It has benefited from an unprecedented level of engagement by the engineering community; vital to creating its meaningful, focused lobbying position on efficiency.

Describing the paper, the Energyst writes that, ‘The UK’s main engineering bodies have urged government to provide energy efficiency payments or tax breaks to businesses, communities and households that can demonstrate proven reductions in demand.

‘The engineers also urged government to give teeth to existing energy efficiency regulations. Focusing on energy efficiency and productivity will be the cheapest way of decarbonising the economy and increasing UK competitiveness.’

Energy efficiency’s vital role; the Royal Academy paper in depth

The Academy is unequivocal; energy efficiency is essential, and it’s needed sooner rather than later.

It writes; ‘Energy efficiency is often overlooked, but a unit of energy saved is usually much cheaper than all production options. Reducing demand has a double benefit: it benefits the user by reducing their costs and it benefits the system by reducing the amount of generation required.’

The Academy argues that incentives and regulation should go hand-in hand with reporting against energy efficiency benchmarks of performance standards, which many in the professional engineering community would view as a reasonable requirement.

Plenty in the wider sector agree. “Improving energy efficiency and resource productivity needs to be a priority, particularly in buildings, and a systems-thinking approach is required to deliver this in all sectors,” Ant Wilson, Director and AECOM Fellow, Sustainability and Advanced Design Building Engineering, told The Academy.

What comes next?

“Papers like these go a long way towards proving what we at Energys know; how vital energy efficiency is to a resilient and productive UK,” says Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“Here, we are keen to work with all stakeholders, including the government, to establish and deliver the best systems for promoting efficient growth and sustainable UK businesses.”

The Academy’s paper concludes that in order to achieve the goal of secure, stable and affordable energy supply, the government needs to base its policymaking around multi-vector, system-wide solutions that build on end-use energy efficiency measures.

Such work could do much to put the UK on the path to the overarching sustainability so badly needed, not only for business profit, but for CO2 remediation and more secure, longer term power.

“As such, papers like these are essential to helping raise the level of the debate, in advance of the energy efficient futures we all predict will soon be here,” concludes Cox.

How to save energy in schools: a guide for school governors

Governors have the tricky job of balancing resources, and considering investment or expenditure decisions that deliver real returns. Energy efficiency upgrades are one such conundrum: at face value they can look interesting, and may well be strongly championed by managers and teaching staff.

But how do you decide the best route forwards? How do you know if this is the right decision, and whether to trust that the figures proposed will actually deliver?

This guide aims to arm school governors with the right knowledge and questions to ask when approving investments for energy efficiency upgrades.

What energy saving technologies I should consider?

 If a fast return on investment is the priority, then ‘quick win’ technologies are key – these involve minimal disruption to the school, and pay for themselves quickly with the energy saved over time.

‘Retrofit’ lighting upgrades consistently top surveys as the most popular energy efficiency investment. This is not surprising when you consider that replacing aging fluorescent tubes with LEDs can deliver energy savings as high as 65%.

Bedfordshire East Multi Academy Trust (BEMAT) is one such organisation that has made the switch. Head of Capital and Projects Ian Kite explains, “It has been estimated that we can cut energy costs by over 69 tons of CO2 across the three schools, so the case was highly compelling,” says Kite.

In other evidence, retrofit boiler optimisation technology (a simple installation which improves the efficiency of existing boilers without affecting the temperature of the building) has been proven to save schools 15% a year on energy bills, with overall payback estimated at 2.5 years. The faster the percentage wins and the speed of return the better.

Is there such a thing as a risk-free finance scheme?

Energys Group has found that leasing arrangements are particularly suitable for schools, and has been able to provide financing to numerous schools in a partnership with schools’ lending specialist Utility Rentals.

For peace of mind, the scheme complies with the Academies Financial Handbook. BEMAT’s lighting upgrade project was funded in this way, following a thorough due diligence exercise undertaken by the Trust.

“There is no requirement for any upfront capital investment; the cost of the lease is paid for through the monthly savings made,” says Kite. “All of the lighting is fully maintained for the duration of the lease. It makes sound commercial sense and it derisks the whole process.”

Can I trust the predicted energy savings/payback period I’m shown?

“It is wise for governors to opt for proven technologies that have already been seen to cut energy use in similar applications and schools,” says Kevin Cox, Managing Director of Energys Group.

“Dealing with well-established suppliers that provide lengthy warranties can ensure peace of mind. High-profile ‘eco-bling’, such as solar PV panels, may be an exciting prospect, but many schools already waste more energy than they would hope to generate through solar power.

“Targeting areas of energy waste, such as outdated lighting, inefficient boilers and uninsulated plant room equipment typically delivers far more substantial carbon savings.”

Choosing the right supplier

 It pays to ensure that your supplier offers a robust warranty. Not only does it show that the supplier is confident their product won’t fail, it also takes the risk out of the decision.

Energys, for example, offers a 5 year warranty on our lighting products. However there are many companies that don’t offer this length of time, so it’s worth shopping around for those who do.

It is also worth checking the financial stability and trading history of your prospective supplier; a long warranty is not especially helpful if the supplier is unlikely to be around to honour it. For further reassurance, you could also specify suppliers that include an ongoing maintenance service as part of their package.

Considering the business case for school energy efficiency improvements? Read our education case studies or contact us for advice.