Ashden's Sustainable School Awards ceremony was held his wednesday in London. Sadly, I was unable to attend. There were four winners:
Thornhill Primary School, Cardiff – young eco warriors make big energy savings
Thornhill Primary School’s crack squad of student eco-warriors keep energy wastage to a minimum with their spot checks on whether lights and appliances have been left on in the classroom. The school’s willingness to trial new ideas and share the results with others, along with its determination to reduce carbon emissions to the absolute minimum, is what makes it the first Welsh school to be a finalist in the Ashden Sustainable School Awards. Solar PV, LED lighting, a building management system and more efficient IT facilities mean that electricity consumption has reduced by over a third since 2011/12. Little wonder that Cardiff City Council use Thornhill as a case study of best practice in carbon reduction.
North Warwickshire & Hinckley College, Nuneaton – joined up approach to carbon management equals win-win
North Warwickshire & Hinckley College in Nuneaton is the first further education college to be a finalist for an Ashden Award and its holistic approach to sustainability has seen it reduce carbon emissions by more than a third in the past five years. Improved insulation, better boilers, and the introduction of LED lighting and sensor controls are just some of the energy efficiency measures the college has put in place. IT team leader Maj, himself a former student, has actually redesigned the IT facilities to reduce electricity use by 35%. A team attitude to reducing consumption and building energy efficiency awareness, involving senior facilities managers and maintenance staff, is resulting in major savings to both the college budget and the environment. Now that’s what we call a win-win, especially in an establishment that covers several different locations and has more than 14,000 students.
Home Farm Primary School, Colchester – Essex Primary School on its very best behaviour
The first primary school in Essex to be awarded a Grade B rating in its Energy Performance Certificate, Home Farm is a model of good behaviour. Between the dream team of Head Teacher Richard Potter and school Business Manager Ceri Stammers, they have managed to turn around a poorly managed heating system and a heat-leaking building to make Home Farm virtually self-sufficient in energy. The school has an active student Eco Committee, solar panels on the roof and a new building management system has been installed, all contributing to the impressive turnaround in energy efficiency. One of the simplest yet most productive moves was to enclose a central courtyard which has reduced gas consumption to 60% of what you would expect from a building of this type. The school has also seen a 61% reduction in its electricity use.
Marton Primary School, Lincolnshire – pupils’ efforts to reduce carbon footprint of school brings big rewards
Being a very small school, all staff and the 97 pupils are aware of the carbon saving efforts at Marton Primary School. There are just four classes and Head Teacher Ben Stephenson and Senior Teacher Naomi Maguire go the extra mile to ensure that the children have a strong voice in determining the energy saving processes. It was the youngsters who insisted on changing their lunch break time so as not to prolong meals being warmed by an electric food warmer – pupil power in action! The school has made some impressive savings, reducing energy consumption by 30% between 2011 and 2014 and the fact that they have 100% LED lighting throughout is estimated to save 12 tonnes of C02 per year.
Ashden's prime focus is on sustainable energy and energy reduction, and so it's no surprise to see issues of curriculum played down in these very positive vignettes. So, if you want to see how these examples of institutional energy innovation are feeding into what children are learning about sustainability and the world around them, you need to dive into the Ashden website and look at the case studies of practice. These are available via the above links, and it's certainly worth a look to see how well the institutions meet the standards set by the Ashden criteria:
"We are looking for schools in the UK that can demonstrate real achievements in making your buildings and grounds more sustainable, and integrating sustainability into your culture and curriculum. Energy must play a key role."