Spending priorities

Sustainable extension to Elm Court School in Lambeth © www.clivesherlock.com

Sustainable extension to Elm Court School in Lambeth © www.clivesherlock.com

The good thing about reducing emissions from your school is that, as well as helping to save the planet, it also has the potential to save you money in the long term. However changes may cost a bit to start with. If you want some suggestions about how investing a modest sum can really make a difference then look at the ideas below. If money is very tight, even small spends can really help to make a school more sustainable.

If you have a modest sum of money at your disposal then for the biggest impact the following are worth your consideration:

  • Make your heating system work better. Investing in some new controls for the heating system can have a big impact. For example Richard Whittington School in Bishops Stortford spent £6000 on boiler controls and reduced their heating costs by 21%, and St. Andrews and St Marks C of E Junior School in Kingston invested in a separate heater for their hall so that it could be heated when hired out without having to warm the whole school building.
  • Insulate! Two thirds of heat from schools is lost through building’s fabric so insulation can have a major impact on energy efficiency. Walls, floors and ceiling insulation are all worth consideration although you will need to ask an architect and building engineer to advise you.
  • Improve the efficiency of your windows. Double glazing is the first stage. If you already have this, a further idea is installing a high performance energy control window film. This can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 30% with a payback period of as little as three years. These films can also help prevent glare from sunlight.

Renewable energy

Wind turbines and solar panels can make great teaching tools, and in some cases they can also generate enough energy to help you reduce the emissions of your school. Their potential is completely dependent on weather conditions and the aspect and location of your school so it is worth thinking carefully before investing.

In order to have a high level of impact renewable energy generators need to be planned and implemented on a local authority or regional scale. Unfortunately unless you are very fortunate, individually sited turbines or solar panels are unlikely to have a big impact on a school’s emissions.


There are sources of funding available to help schools improve their efficiency. Sustainability and Environmental Education (SEED)’s list is pretty comprehensive. You could also try the Carbon Trust, Teachernet or your local authority.