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Making Schools Greener

10 September 2010

SPONSORED ARTICLE: Hochtief FM’s experience of helping schools to be sustainable and reduce energy use

SCHOOLS SHOULD BE safeguarding precious budgets for core activities. We know that the recent message from the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Education is clear. There will be cuts and schools have to think about different ways of tightening their belts to safeguard their core activities. Surely reducing energy consumption is a good place to start, especially with the added bonus of a real life environmental project that pupils can be part of.
Of course this all sounds remarkably easy in theory, but as any one knows when there are multiple stakeholders initiatives have a habit of stalling. Those stakeholders in education include the Local or (on the continent) the Regional Authority, the Head Teacher as well as the on site facilities team and, of course, the students/parents.
Cue the facilities management profession. In many instances, whilst the main thrust of a contract in the education sector is the traditional FM services, such as M&E maintenance, cleaning and security for example, HOCHTIEF Facility Management has identified a significant opportunity to drive cost savings with a robust energy management programme.
There is no one size fits all solution. In HOCHTIEF Facility Management’s case the age and type of building varies enormously across any LEA portfolio but with experience in educational establishments supporting over 65,000 students, there is a wealth of expertise to draw upon.
Maintaining momentum is also critical; HOCHTIEF Facility Management has significant experience in creating joined-up energy reduction schemes that continually deliver savings, as well as enhancing awareness amongst the people involved. The key is to create a road map that focuses on two elements that directly affect energy consumption; optimisation of the assets and communication with the people using or working in the buildings.
HOCHTIEF Facility Management’s approach is firstly to measure consumption at each educational establishment for a defined period. Not only does this provide a baseline for
performance, but also supports the LEA or individual college with data collection that would need to be reported for CRC compliance.
Through a dedicated Energy Management System (EMS) HOCHTIEF Facility Management establishes an understanding of energy consumption across multiple educational portfolios, as well as enabling access to live energy management reports. The EMS can analyse half hourly data from utility meters, data loggers and the Building Management System (BMS) thereby creating a substantial reference against which performance can be benchmarked.
Reports are highly visual and can be overlaid with weather data to give a more comprehensive picture of consumption. Armed with this knowledge the HOCHTIEF Facility Management energy team work with their FM’s at each school to create a plan based on the objectives of the local stakeholders to target energy reduction initiatives.
However the plan also set’s out to influence a behaviour change within the user group. If the FMs working for HOCHTIEF Facility Management understand when and how the facilities are used there is a better chance that they can affect behaviour change within the users thereby delivering long-term benefits. In the first instance the caretakers and cleaners are made aware of the energy reduction targets for the school and how they can affect their targets. In this way they are demonstrating environmental leadership to teachers and students alike.
The future plans look encouraging too. A reward scheme will incentivise schools to achieve further savings with the caretakers and cleaners set to receive a direct benefit. The school management could also be beneficiaries ensuring savings are reinvested in educational programmes.
There are also plans to introduce SMART and SUB meters to improve accuracy billings and create a highly visible real time energy consumption display. This type of  communication is not merely about measuring and recording the energy usage, it is a tool to engage the entire school community.
The joint efforts of the Authorities, the college management and HOCHTIEF Facility Management can be quite staggering. In 2009 alone over 1,400 tonnes of CO2 where saved. This is only the tip of the energy reduction iceberg; it just needs planning, collaboration and expertise to truly exploit the opportunity for the education sector as a whole.

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