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Estates

Exploring the sustainability of our academy buildings

Over the past year, our estates team have begun to explore the sustainability of our academy buildings.

Studies conducted by Ofsted suggest that there have been positive results from schools that have integrated sustainability into their curriculum[1], and with the Government advising it would like every school to become sustainable by 2020, our academies are taking a number of steps to provide a more sustainable environment for our pupils and staff.

A range of innovative projects have been implemented, including investing in solar panels. Over the last year, five academies have had solar panels fitted to generate energy.  This has reduced their energy consumption for those academies as well as reducing their carbon footprint.

Most recently, Ravens Academy in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, has had a block of solar panels fitted to the roof of its new nursery. Completed in May 2014 and taking just two months to fit, the facility was built by Net Zero Buildings Schoolhaus which is renowned for developing multi award-winning low energy education buildings.

The state-of-the-art heating and cooling system costs around £5 per square metre per year to run – a fraction of the cost if an alternative solution was to be used. The design is also highly insulated and incorporates LED lighting to reduce further energy usage. The low running costs combined with energy renewable factors generates electricity which reduces both the academy’s energy costs and carbon footprint.

Karen Hammond, Principal at Ravens Academy, said: “We are very pleased with the efficiency of the building and are now looking to install solar panels on some of our other sites to lower emissions and reduce energy consumption. The solar panels not only save significant costs year-on-year but they also help towards the pupils’ learning in a fun and engaging way.”

We are in discussions to install further Schoolhaus across The Trust and will link the engineering elements to the curriculum so that our pupils can also learn the importance of conserving energy.

ATT has also invested in boiler controls schemes which have been fitted in five academies so far. This has reduced energy consumption by 30 per cent and improved the efficiency of heating, saving annual costs of around £100,000 per annum through a mix off efficiency and green tariffs. This work has been funded by the Renewal Heat Incentive.

In January 2016, Iceni Academy in Norfolk had a biomass boiler installed which has resulted in more efficient heating and hot water. The academy has switched from burning oil to sustainable energy fueled by wood chips. By replacing the boilers with biomass units, the potential income for this initiative will be around £26,000 per year and will reduce emissions by up to 80 per cent.

ATT is in discussion with a number of roof manufacturers to procure and install further solar initiatives and we are currently undergoing a OJEOU tender process to procure all of the Trust’s energy under one umbrella, this will allow us to maximise efficiencies of scale to provide Value for money whilst reducing costs and energy consumption.

Edward Thomas, Estates Director for Academy Transformation Trust, added: “On the face of it, these rather cosmetic changes may not appear to make a difference to each academy or each pupil, but at ATT, we firmly believe that a safe, functional and stimulating environment is a key element of pupils being able to learn.

“We want our academies to operate as efficiently as possible so that we can focus the majority of our resources on educating our pupils.”

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