With the current worldwide focus on climate change, government, consumer and industry efforts to reduce our impact on the planet have been pulled into sharp focus. For example, just last month, the UK Government announced its sixth Carbon Budget, committing us – in law – to the fastest fall in greenhouse gas emissions of any major economy between 1990 and 2035. One of the most ambitious climate targets in the world, we are now committed to cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. When you consider that heating accounts for about 37% of total UK carbon emissions including industrial processes, of which 17% is directly from heating and cooling buildings, there is a very real opportunity to tackle this significant contributor.
To meet this target, the government has introduced many schemes to reduce and offset emissions, including those specifically to support the education sector. For example, in March this year £1bn was set aside to help schools, hospitals and industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and £932 million directed to 429 projects across England though the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. This scheme aims to fund low carbon heating systems, such as heat pumps, and energy efficiency measures like insulation and LED lighting. With this in mind, schools are turning to industry experts to help take advantage of such schemes and advise on the best way become more energy efficient. After all, with schools wrestling with increasingly tight budgets, they stand to benefit from energy cost reductions which they can reinvest in improving pupil education.
So, what do schools need to consider when undertaking energy efficiency projects, and how can installers support the education sector by offering them realistic and beneficial solutions? First, we need to consider the opportunities available in the retrofitting of public buildings.
Retrofitting public buildings – what’s the opportunity?
Enhancing the sustainability of our built environment is a huge undertaking. We already know from the sheer size and scale of our country’s towns and cities, that the vast majority of the buildings we will need to use in 2050 have already been built. As such, even with the net zero new-builds which are being planned across the country and the important role they will pay in meeting our needs, we will still need to focus heavily in retrofitting and decarbonising existing buildings in order to meet our carbon reduction targets.
Therefore, a significant opportunity exists for retrofitting, with renovation required for many buildings to reach modern energy or thermal standards. In fact, according to analysis by professional body the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the estimated energy savings achievable from retrofitting the existing building stock could potentially lie somewhere between 51,000,000 kWh up to 182,000,000 kWh saved per annum, combining both residential and non-residential buildings. Therefore, retrofitting properties is recognised as a cost-effective route to achieving UK decarbonisation targets, in addition to the health and social benefits derived from such a programme. It’s no surprise that this benefit is also widely recognised within the education sector. However, there are some nuances. Join us for part 3 – ‘The shades of Grey within the education sector for installers’ as Max considers the practical considerations for installers.