Schools colleges and universities

Our work with schools, colleges and universities includes projects to examine why some energy efficiency and carbon reduction initiatives work and others fail.

We have also produced guidance on the development of renewable energy projects and programmes and developed an innovative model for involving children in the ownership and management of renewable energy projects.

Our work with universities includes business planning for new research and academic departments in the environmental sector.

Recent case study

Key ingredients for running successful energy awareness programmes in schools

What makes a successful schools environment awareness and change programme?

Feel the burn – poster produced by Summerhill Infants School (Bristol) as part of an environmental awareness campaign.

A lot of schools now run environmental programmes on topics such as recycling, energy use, pollution from fossil fuels, food and climate change. Though most set out with great enthusiasm only a few become embedded in the daily life of the school. So what makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful programme?

We worked with Bristol City Council to examine 10 successful programmes in schools across the UK, all of them Ashden Award winners, with a view to sharing the key ingredients with schools in Bristol and further afield. We identified 8 key components to running a successful programme, of which three most important were:

Support from key members of staff. You will need the support of the Head Teacher, the Caretaker and Chair of Governors. The schools that really succeeded not only had the support of staff and pupils but critically the full backing of these three people.

Behavioural change brings the biggest benefits. Renewable energy technologies are a great way of getting children and staff excited about energy, and plenty of schools now have PV systems. But the really big savings can come from the lowest cost measures. That means changes in the way we think about and use energy. One school in Devon cut electricity demand in half and saved £20,000 per annum using this approach.

Giving children responsibility is good for their confidence and produce really strong results. Eastchurch Primary School on the Isle of Sheppey began working to improve its environmental performance more than 10 years ago. The school has installed solar panels, but the key success factor has been engaging children in monitoring energy and water consumption.

The ‘E-team’ has 6 members and is responsible for monitoring the whole school including teachers. Working in pairs pupils assess whether doors and windows have been closed and lights turned off, daily. Acknowledging different levels of technical understanding the approach is to encourage good practice at all levels. Results are collated weekly and announced at a Thursday morning assembly with the winning class receiving a certificate.

You can read the full report with all eight recommendations here.

Resources for Schools colleges and universities

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