Seventy Catholic primaries and secondaries in the Archdioceses of Birmingham and Westminster have saved over £500,000 - enough to employ 30 teaching assistants - by clubbing together to commission reviews of how their premises use energy.
Known as Heat Decarbonisation Plans (HDPs), these detailed assessments, commissioned by the Archdioceses’ education services, revealed that upgrading building management systems could make big savings through more efficient energy use.
The schools then put in place a range of measures including improved metering for gas and electricity monitoring, LED lighting, and for schools installing solar panels these then provided up to half of their electricity.
St John Paul II Multi Academy runs nine schools in the Birmingham area, including in Walmley, Erdington and Sutton Coldfield, which have since saved £80,000, equivalent to 871,000 units of gas.
John Carroll, Facilities Manager for St John Paul II Multi Academy, said: “The prices just kept going up, we had to take control of it.
“The HDPs recommended new control panels for the boilers, and straight away we found we were saving a lot of money. By managing data for energy use it’s made a huge difference – we've cut down gas usage by 30%.
“Schools are looking at conservation now, and headteachers can talk to staff and pupils with savings for the past year and say ‘this is what you’ve done, now let’s keep it going’.”
The Archdioceses used Churchmarketplace, a not-for-profit procurement service set up by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to help Catholic schools and parishes bulk-buy collectively to save on costs.
The Archdioceses then contracted energy efficiency consultancy Zeco to work out where savings could be made in schools, supported by Churchmarketplace.
Much of educational budgets are spent on products and services, such as stationery, transport, catering, computers, broadband, and printers, all of which can be made much cheaper by bulk purchases with multiple schools.
Jennifer Williamson, Director of Churchmarketplace, said: “Headteachers continue to come under huge pressure from inflation when setting budgets. By buying together with other schools real savings can be made on costs, and energy-efficient systems put in place which go on to save even more.”
Two of the key texts of Pope Francis are Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home, and Laudate Deum, which emphasise the importance of protecting the environment against a culture of disposability.
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