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huge reduction in the carbon footprint. The solar installations have been funded by more than £2.9 million raised from the SEC’s 715 members (both individual investors and member schools, who receive any profit made). After 20 to 25 years, the SEC donates the PV system to the school, allowing it to generate its own energy for free. ‘Our model means that schools


avoid taking on debt to fund the installation of PV panels, but can still benefit from energy price discounts of 25% to 30% and reduce their carbon footprint,’ says SEC volunteer chair Mike Smyth. ‘It’s all down to the collaboration and support of local people who want to see their neighbourhood school generating clean, green energy. A typical primary school could save around £1,000 a year on electricity bills.’ Until now, such initiatives have


been supported by the feed-in tariff (FiT) – a payment from the electricity companies to the energy generator to promote renewable electricity. The SEC has repaid the cost of installation by using the FiT and the charge to the school for electricity usage. The government is now ending the FiT but, says Mike Smyth, it’s still possible to provide free installation for schools with largish roofs that are metal, south-facing or flat, and there may be ways the SEC can work with other schools too. Another source of help is provided


by the community benefit society Solar for Schools (SfS), which offers two options. The first involves SfS funding the upfront installation and management costs of solar systems through crowdfunding (it has already raised nearly £3 million this way). The second option is for the school to source its own finance and own the solar panel system outright, with SfS acting as project and maintenance manager.


Screening out pollution Air pollution is becoming a public health emergency and children are particularly vulnerable, with repeated exposure to toxic air linked to asthma, diabetes and lung development issues. With many UK schools sited near busy roads, more than four in ten primary


Save money, save the planet


Using existing heating and


lighting controls efficiently saves money and can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 40%.


Reducing the temperature


by one degree centigrade (to a DfE-recommended 18 degrees) can save around five to ten per cent on heating bills. Operating heating systems for an hour less each day will save a similar amount again.


Switching old fluorescent


lighting to LED lighting can cut electricity costs by up to 70%.


Low-flow taps, cistern


dams and other conservation measures can reduce water consumption by more than 50%.


A dripping tap wastes up


to 1,000 gallons a week. Laptops consume around


85% less electricity than desktop computers.


For schools reluctant to take


on debt, there are a growing number of community


and crowdfunding options for


financing a greener environment


FundEd SPRING 2020 17


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