February has seen the devastating impact of flooding on individuals and communities, with many of us asking, what can we do to help?
As we embark on a new decade, the world is witnessing the very real and alarming effects of climate change, including rising temperatures, extreme weather and unpredictable patterns, to name a few examples. The phrase ‘think global, act local’ has never been more poignant, as the need for countries to look at their carbon footprint becomes a necessity. The long-term solution is to, as a nation, reduce our carbon emissions.
Within the UK, the public sector is a significant consumer of energy and is leading the way in transforming its buildings to become as efficient and sustainable as possible, with the installation of energy efficiency technologies being one of the most obvious solutions to ensure spaces are running at the lowest possible cost to the public purse.
One way to do this is to take a holistic approach to reach optimum levels of efficiency, driving down carbon consumption and energy bills simultaneously. School buildings, as an example, have extended opening hours and often run into evenings and weekends as they house various clubs within the community. There is a need to drive down bills whilst maintaining the most comfortable learning and working environment for students and staff alike. Government funded organisation Salix Finance offers interest-free loans to the public sector to reduce their energy bills and carbon consumption. The finance is used to purchase energy efficient technologies, whilst the savings achieved are used to repay the loan, meaning there is no expense to the school. What’s more, once the repayments are made, the school can go on to benefit from the savings, to spend on resources of their choice.
At the heart of this change is young people. Parrs Wood High School, a specialist technology college in Manchester, is an inspiring example of how students can pioneer grassroots change. The school has its very own dedicated CO2 team; an ambitious group of sixth form students with a passion for sustainability who are taking action to cut the carbon emissions of the building. Crucially, they recognise that the use of lighting and heating is carbon intensive and will eventually contribute to the earth’s temperature increasing if action is not taken. They hope to empower their fellow classmates to become more environmentally mindful, whilst they push for a whole-school behavioural change approach. Each week, the team meets in their science classroom to discuss all things green and how to reduce their carbon footprint, with some of them aiming to study sustainability-related subjects at university. It is the CO2 team, led by their physics teacher and energy manager, Chris Baker, who wrote the application for funding, to upgrade multiple measures. The application for funding included savings calculations, reviewing the best placed energy efficiency technologies and acquiring quotes for their implementation.
Using a loan of £236k, Parrs Wood upgraded lighting and lighting controls, as well as installing a building energy management system (BEMs), automatic doors and insulation. The total works are expected to reduce energy consumption by 45%, whilst saving £52k and 286 tonnes of carbon annually. The loan will repay itself in 4.5 years, leaving the school free to benefit from the financial savings.
Of the CO2 club, ambassadors Misha and Megan, say, “We joined the CO2 team to make a positive impact on the environment (before it’s too late!) and gain real life work experience in school. It is very interesting work, and we enjoy being part of the team.”
There is a need for us all to act before it is too late. Salix has worked in partnership with the public sector since 2004 and is looking to build long term relationships with public sector bodies to take a holistic approach to energy efficiency. To talk with the dedicated team about how they can help, please visit salixfinance.co.uk.