You will have many allies in your mission to make your school energy efficient. One of the most important of these is the business manager or estates manager. More than anyone else, they will be aware of how much energy you're using. We might all have different reasons for taking action on our energy use - your eco team might want to reduce your school's planet warming carbon emissions - but for your business manager, the cost of energy will be a major factor. Don't forget this when you're chatting to them.
If a roof doesn't have insulation, heat can escape very easily through it - up to 25% of a building’s heat. This can add hundreds of pounds per year to heating bills. Insulating loft spaces is very cost effective; whatever the school pays on insulation is usually paid back within a few years by reduced energy costs.
What does your school roof look like? Is it flat or pitched (like a triangle)? Many school buildings have flat roofs and unfortunately this makes insulation measures more difficult, disruptive and costly. It is easiest and most cost effective to make improvements during refurbishment projects so think about this whenever the opportunity arises. If you're putting new waterproof coverings on or your roof blows off and needs to be fixed, get some insulation laid as well.
Cavity wall insulation
If your school was made of brick and built after 1920 it's likely to have cavity walls. This means that there is a gap between inner and outer walls of the building. We now fill this gap with insulation but this wasn't common until 2005. When this is done to older buildings it involves injecting the walls with an insulating foam that expands and fills up the space in the cavity. If your buildings are older than 2005 you might want to check to see if they have cavity wall insulation. Your Estates Manager should know but you can also spot some tell tale signs of the small 2cm injection holes at approximately 1 metre or so intervals which will have been filled in with a different colour mortar.
Up to a 1/3 of a building's heat can escape through the walls, so having cavity insulation can reduce the cost of heating the whole building by up to 30%.
Cavity wall insulation typically costs about £20/m2 of wall area, and payback on the investment through energy savings is between 3 and 10 years. It is probably one of the most cost effective ways of reducing your school's heating bills.
Can you calculate how much it would cost you to put cavity wall insulation into all of your school building walls?
Arrange a meeting with the school business or estate manager to find out whether they know what insulation is already installed in the school roofs and walls.
Arrange a walk around the school site with the school caretaker or estate manager to check for insulation. Ask them to look in any lofts and report back to your eco team.
Draw up a plan of the school site and mark up where there is already insulation and where insulation needs to be added.
Discuss when and how insulation could be added with your school business manager.