Innovative energy programme saves Cambridgeshire schools thousands

Schools across Cambridgeshire are collectively saving £600,000 per year after joining an innovative energy programme – and more are being urged to sign up.

Cambridgeshire County Council began a programme of energy efficiency and energy generation projects in schools in 2014 by providing loans or managed service arrangements from its Local Energy Investment Fund. The aim is to help schools plan for the future, upgrade their energy assets and manage their energy bills. This schools programme is part of the most successful programme of guaranteed energy retrofit measures in England.

There are now over 40 schools that have signed up to the programme, which has seen them reduce their energy use by 7,547MWh per year - enough to power a village. Twenty-three have already completed their installation and are reaping the benefits of reduced energy costs, and all the sites will have completed their installations by early next year.

Thanks to a package of measures, which include LED lighting upgrades, solar panels for electricity and heat generation, biomass boilers, combined heat and power systems, various improvements to heating systems and controls and various types of insulation, schools have saved an average of 20 per cent on their energy bills.

Cllr Josh Schumann, the County Council’s Commercial & Investment Committee chairman, said: “Schools have made significant savings on their energy bills through joining this programme. It means they get much more control over their energy usage whilst reducing their carbon footprint – and can even generate income. I am thrilled to see so many have already signed up to the scheme but we want to encourage even more schools to sign up, and see the benefits of guaranteed energy savings.”

Schools have seen a number of benefits from the programme including brighter teaching and learning conditions from upgraded lighting while improvements to boilers, energy management systems and insulation help tackle issues of excessive or insufficient winter heat. 

Sir Harry Smith Community College in Whittlesey has been reaping the rewards of the schools energy programme since the work was completed a year ago by Bouygues Energies & Services saving in excess of £50,000 on energy bills.

The pilot project included the installation of a raft of measures including 90kW solar panels, LED lighting upgrade, upgrades to existing boilers, building energy management systems across the site and heating system insulation.

Also installed was a Woodchip Biomass Boiler, a completely new technology for the site which means the school saves 24 per cent on total gas expenditure.

As a direct result of the experience gained working on the project at Sir Harry Smith, the two primary schools that are also part of the Aspire Trust have embarked on energy projects and the two other feeder primary schools have also instigated similar work. 

John King, a Trustee of the Aspire Learning Trust, Whittlesey, said: “Since the installation of these measures, our energy bills have been cut significantly and we’ve reduced our carbon footprint. It was a big investment and it took a while to complete the works but we ask ourselves, ‘is the investment meeting our needs?’ and ‘was it worthwhile?’  The answer is a definitive ‘yes!

“The County Council Energy Team were helpful and supportive, and Bouygues were very professional with excellent technical advice.” 

Earlier this month, Bouygues Energies & Services were appointed as ‘service provider’ to design and deliver projects for the next programme phase, after a procurement process under the Refit framework.

Miles Messenger, Energy Engineering Manager for Bouygues said: the RE:FIT energy performance contracting approach is an excellent way for schools to invest in energy saving measures, as the guarantees offered by our group provides a high level of financial security and the reassurance of best value for money. The partnership has developed an innovative combination of engineering solutions with commercial and financial models, which has proven to meet the needs of many schools. Bouygues Energies & Services is very proud of our achievements thus far and look forward to working with more schools in future.” 

The next phase of the schools programme is now being developed. If you work with a school, or know of a school that could be interested in joining, please contact [email protected]

The pilot project included the installation of a raft of measures including 90kW solar panels