Scheme to help schools cut energy costs

Warren Whyte with solar panel on the roof of County Hall
Warren Whyte with solar panel on the roof of County Hall

Schools in Buckinghamshire are being invited to make a New Year resolution to save energy, cut carbon emissions, and save money.

In the latest round of RE:fit, a three-year Bucks County Council programme started in 2015 to reduce energy consumption and cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent, schools are being offered a package of new lighting plus heating and energy controls.

The measures will save schools an estimated 12 per cent on energy costs.

Great Horwood Combined School was one of four schools that took part in a pilot of the scheme, with a total investment of £115,000.

Annual energy cost reductions of nearly £11,000 across the four schools will save the county council about £270,000 within 25 years.

The schools have had new economical LED lighting and sensors installed, and one school – Millbrook Combined, in High Wycombe – has had state-of-the-art efficient heat and pool pumps fitted.

The RE:fit programme is now being opened up to all schools. Upfront costs come from interest-free government-funded Salix loans, which the county council repays over eight to 10 years with some of the guaranteed energy savings.

RE:fit is part of a longer-term commitment by the county council to drive down carbon emissions and energy costs.

Cabinet member for environment and planning, Warren Whyte, said: “We set ourselves an ambitious reduction target of 10 per cent by April 2017 as part of our Carbon Management Plan, which will be good for the environment, create better public spaces and reduce running costs.

“This is a great opportunity for schools to get more efficient and reliable heating and lighting, and create brighter classrooms.”

Improvement work will start as soon as the first 10 schools sign up to the programme.

The RE:fit programme has already invested £800,000 in roof-mounted solar panels, LED lights and energy management controls in 19 council buildings with annual savings of around £84,000.