The link between energy and Sustainability

Did you know that by 2020 the government is encouraging all schools to be sustainable? This ambition was outlined in the ‘Schools and Sustainability’ report in 2010, and the initiative is being managed by Ofsted. Jon Cowan from Utilitywise explains how improved energy efficiency can play its part.

As the 2020 deadline approaches, all schools are expected to take measures to show their commitment to sustainability across energy and water usage, as well as becoming models of efficiency in terms of budget – ensuring that they represent best practice for the communities they operate within and the children they’re developing.

However, out of the 24,288 schools in the UK, the majority have their utility contracts negotiated in bulk by the Local Education Authority (LEA).

This means that most schools are set up to fail as they strive to become more sustainable for two reasons.

First, under the LEA’s current purchasing deals, schools have no clarity on their specific energy usage or costs as they don’t see their energy bills.

There is no transparency as each school is bundled within a wider cost.

Second, despite government targets, under the LEA’s arrangement there is no renewable option or preference that schools can raise.

Given the government’s pro-sustainability agenda, it seems that the current status quo of utilities procurement in most schools is at odds with the broader commitments being made in the sector.

If there are obvious downsides to having contracts negotiated in bulk by the LEA, why are so many schools signed up?

The answer is simple. It’s seen as convenient. As decision makers face crippling demands on their time, it’s easy to understand why this option appeals.

Best of both worlds

There is an alternative that offers the best of both worlds. It combines convenience with an easy way for schools to boost energy sustainability and efficiency – whilst benefitting the bottom line.

By opting out of the LEA’s purchasing deals and taking control of their utilities, schools can take a more strategic approach – buying better, buying less.

Especially at a time when procurement managers are feeling the burden of tight budgets, schools can save money and energy by shopping around.

To make the most of the freedom to choose supplier, schools should go for one that takes the hassle out of the whole process; one that provides expert advice and keeps a view of usage and energy budgets, so that schools can secure more time and money to focus on the day job of helping children to learn.

As one of the leading utilities consultancies in the UK offering independent, impartial advice and expertise to over 40,0000 customers, Utilitywise occupies a unique position in the sector – we’re neither supplier nor a traditional single source broker.

Because of this, we’re able offer advice on the right tariffs and insight on consumption reduction, as well as compliance and regulation.

With a proven track record working with businesses of all sizes across the country – to deliver average savings of up to 20 per cent – Utilitywise hopes to bring similar success to schools.

That’s why this year we’ve launched our ‘Greener Schools Campaign’.

Greener schools

Our Greener Schools Campaign allows schools to boost energy sustainability whilst saving money. Proving that there is no premium for green energy, we compare the market to find the most suitable tariffs.

In fact, the Carbon Trust suggests that by boosting energy efficiency, UK schools could collectively save £44million a year.

In contrast to the LEA’s current purchasing deals, with Utilitywise, schools can switch to renewable energy tariffs and reduce waste by keeping a close watch on usage through insight provided by the Utility Hub.

There is also the option to enhance energy efficiency by implementing energy management systems and solutions. While the biggest drain of energy in schools is heating, lighting and hot water, there is also an increasing cost associated with IT equipment.

By providing schools with transparency of what is used where, it allows them to take action to reduce overall costs.

As well as getting schools ready for the short-term target of 2020 by helping them to show their commitment to sustainability across energy and water usage, Utilitywise’s Greener School Campaign also offers classroom programmes on energy sustainability and efficiency to educate the next generation.

Package details

Schools can utilise as much or as little as our Greener Schools Campaign has to offer, but the full package includes a 100 per cent renewable energy tariffs starting at the same rate as non-renewable energy tariffs.

It offers access to the Utility Hub which gives schools visibility of usage and bills, enabling them to track and report savings. For multi-academy trusts, there is also the option to manage all sites.

Utility Hub can be used in classrooms to educate pupils on energy usage and efficiency.

It also offers CPD accredited energy awareness course for staff and ensures compliance with Display Energy Certificates (DEC) and Air Conditioning Inspections.

The programme also offers a complete School Energy Management Plan (that no one else is offering). It also makes the connection between schools and energy efficiency solutions by providing on site energy audits that inform a bespoke 360-degree action plan that shows where wastage can be reduced and investment made in energy saving measures

Quick fix

The government’s challenge for all schools to become more sustainable by 2020 is a good thing and will help shape a more sustainable future for the sector, as well as educating our children about the importance of the environment.

Schools with a bigger budget can make substantial upfront investments that will create long-term energy and cost efficiencies – such as installing solar panels, for example.

However, for the majority of schools, this is out of the question. Instead, a cheap, quick-fix is preferred – this is what our Greener Schools Campaign caters for.

As ever, the greatest barrier to taking action is inertia. That’s why we’re encouraging schools to realise the opportunities that these targets bring.

As well as showing their commitment to sustainability across energy and water usage, schools can take more control over their utilities and pocket some welcome savings.

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