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  • Writer's pictureWatlington Climate Action Group

Celebrating Energy Saving in Our Schools

The Acer Trust is a group of seven schools in Oxfordshire, including Watlington Primary School and Icknield Community College. In autumn 2022, against a backdrop of the climate emergency and rising energy costs, the Trust Executive Group challenged its schools to reduce their energy consumption by 20% over the winter months. An Energy Champion was identified at each school to work with staff and students to achieve this goal. Four companies, who work with the Trust regularly, donated prizes for the schools that achieved the biggest savings over the year: WSW Projects Ltd, Central Roofing & Building Services Ltd, Minerva Procurement Consultancy Services Ltd and Jennings of Garsington Ltd. The schools spent the winter working hard to reduce their energy consumption; they held assemblies to raise awareness, empowered students to remind staff and each other to switch off lights and equipment, and turned thermostats down. Many schools were also able to benefit from associated energy reductions arising from capital building works which had taken place during the 2022 summer break, including LED lighting upgrades, additional insulation to new roofs and double-glazed windows.

Our students really engaged with the competition; at Botley School they even designed a mascot, Bolt, to inspire their efforts. They completely understood the importance of reducing their energy use and the positive impact their actions could have. Their enthusiasm helped to keep momentum when others started to flag under the pressure of other priorities. Some schools were also able to invest in additional energy reduction measures such as replacing failing gas hot water plants with electric point-of-use heaters and fitting tamper-proof covers to thermostats.

The outcome of all this concerted effort was that overall the schools were able to achieve a combined reduction of 23%; approximately 720,000 kWh of gas and 28,000 kWh of electricity. This equates to 41 tonnes of carbon. The individual schools who achieved the biggest savings were awarded their well-deserved prizes at the Eco Fair at Icknield Community College and WCAG on Friday 23rd June. The winners were Matthew Arnold School for reducing their gas consumption by 42%, Botley Primary School for saving 31% of their electricity and Icknield Community College for a combined 22% savings across gas and electricity.

These outcomes are not a one-off; the students and staff are committed to continuing to reduce their energy use and their wider impact on the environment. The Trust is developing a Sustainability Strategy to support the schools to coordinate existing work, identify areas of improvement and create a monitoring and review process to manage its implementation. Further capital investment has been secured to install solar PVs, upgrade heating and lighting management systems and continue the rolling replacement of failing and inefficient windows and roofs over the next 12 months.

"Thank you to everyone who made a pledge at the EcoFair. It's great to hear of some of those pledges being put into action, including this pledge to install a bee hotel. Photo shows some of the "rooms" are already taken, and another bee is just moving in!"

What about any of the materials from the last Watlington Times, could we put the Icknield student's write up as a guest blog on our website, and then link to that?

We have the River Thame Conservation Trust event to publicise and the WEG event to publicise - I think you already have those?

Also Ecologi again:

We hope everyone enjoyed their summer holidays, whether in the UK or abroad. If you did fly and would like to offset your carbon footprint, we would recommend Ecologi. While reducing your carbon footprint where you can is best, for the rest you can contribute to projects that help capture or reduce carbon emissions elsewhere. Not only that but we can do this as a town - sign up and then ask to join our group, and let's see what we can achieve together. So far, accounts linked with Watlington have planted 2,274 trees and funded 54 projects, avoiding 112 Co2e tons of carbon emissions.

Botley Primary School Energy Mascot - Bolt

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