Where to go now: going solar in a post Solar Schools world.
The Solar Schools project has now officially closed. However, have no fear. We’ve been doing some research and we’ve put together this list of the best places for aspiring Solar Schools to head on over to. Each school is different and all these suppliers are offering different things so please do your research before signing up for anything.
Who you gonna call? Try this lot.
Your local energy co-op
Contact: Find them at: hub.communityenergyengland.org/projects
Community energy groups often install solar panels on schools. Local people will buy shares in them so they are co-operatively owned, and you get cheaper clean power.
Contact: email@example.com | 01483 421580
Energy4all have installed solar on over 50 schools around the country. Their model involves a return on your investment, cheaper electricity and all panel maintenance covered. It's UK wide and can incorporate crowdfunding if you'd like.
Brighton Energy Co-op
Contact: Matt Brown | firstname.lastname@example.org | 07890261999
Available UK wide, and suitable for most schools. Their method, like Solar Schools, incorporates crowdfunding. The co-op have a community fund which is used on good causes such as fuel poverty.
Contact: email@example.com | 01392 213912
Sungift can still provide schools with options. If they can make it work for your school, then they will.
Nothing fitting the bill?
Couldn’t find a solar option quite right for your school? Do not despair! Check out these alternative ways to turn your school into a lean, mean, carbon cutting machine.
Environmental assessment: conduct an environmental assessment to find out where you could be saving energy. Make sure you get the students involved! Eco-schools do a great guide on this.
Sticker pack: print off our stickers to remind people to switch off the lights when they leave the room!
Switch your energy supplier: nowadays it is so quick and easy to switch your energy supplier. It shouldn’t cost you anything and there are wonderful companies offering 100% renewable energy tariffs that are cheaper than the Big 6! Comparison website here.
£5 - £500
Compost bins: these are cheap and a great way to reduce landfill waste. Some councils offer subsidies meaning they can come as cheap as £5 for one bin!
Bike racks: a great way to encourage low carbon travel to school. Children will get fresh air, exercise and reduce the crazy traffic jams at the school gates every morning! A bike rack to accommodate 10-12 bikes costs around £300, and you can multiply up for more capacity.
Energy monitors: these nifty gadgets will show how much energy your school is using at any given time. They can be used to educate pupils about energy usage, generate lots of useful data for maths and science lessons, and can show you any surprise areas of energy use and waste at school. The monitor itself can cost £30-100, and you may want a package to include display screens or smart metres to retain some of the data.
School garden: an amazing outdoor project to get students involved in growing their own fruit, veg and nature-friendly plants. Incredible Edible have a whole section on their website dedicated to schools. Growing your own food can be a great way to save on costs and cut carbon by avoiding air miles and car transit, as well as making use of your new compost bins!
Energy efficient appliances: Use this Which? nifty guide to figure out which appliances need an upgrade. This could save you quite a few bob every year in a tea-guzzling staff room.
Basic insulation: make the most of your heating with 10:10’s simple guide to bust drafts and keep the heat in. You can spend as much or as little as you like on this really, insulating the doors, windows, boiler and pipes will probably cost about £400.
£500 - £2000
LED lighting: LEDs use about 10% of the electricity of conventional light bulbs, meaning they save you a lot of money and cut carbon straight away. They are also relatively easy to install, have a look at 10:10’s guide for more details. Prices vary, you could probably replace two classrooms’ worth for about £1500, your school library or reception area for around £1200, and the school hall for around £2500. If the cost sounds quite high, you could discuss with an installer such as Sungift Solar, or a finance provider such as Pure Leapfrog or Salix Finance.
Low energy interactive whiteboards: Interactive whiteboards tend to be quite energy guzzling, generally not very good to our world. Buying a low energy one will set you back about £1000.
Serious insulation: A great way to make the most of school heating. It might be that your school has some of this in place already, so have a look at The Energy Saving Trust’s ideas and see what might work in your school. Secondary glazing on windows or loft/ roof insulation will cost about £1000 each, and wall insulation may be about £2000.
Convert your boiler to biomass: It may be possible to fully or partially convert your boiler to biomass, meaning it will burn wood chip and other organic material instead of fossil fuels. Some boilers can be converted for as little as £1000, so you can begin to reduce your carbon footprint straight away.
£2000 - £5000
Wood stove: one way to cut carbon and save money on heating could be to buy a wood burning stove. Think log fires, but safe and generating enough heat for perhaps one or two rooms. Large stoves cost around £4000-5000.
Solar thermal panels: Solar photovoltaics (what people usually think of when they say solar panels) generate electricity, but you can buy solar thermal panels to heat waters for your school. These would qualify you for the Renewable Heat Incentive (basically the Feed-in tariff for renewable heating) so you’d make extra savings. You can buy a small rig for £3000-5000.
Low energy interactive whiteboards: Interactive whiteboards tend to be quite energy guzzling, generally not very good to our world. With £5000 you could buy about five low carbon ones.
LED lighting: With £5000 you could take your LED roll out much further and convert far more of the classrooms and communal spaces.
£5000 - £7000
Air source heat pump: These are renewable heating devices that use the ambient heat in the air to generate heating. It would qualify you for the Renewable Heat Incentive (basically the Feed-in tariff for renewable heating). A small heat pump can cost around £7000.
One of the best ways to cut carbon is to educate the students to do it themselves. This education will last them a lifetime! Here are our top picks…
Bright Green Futures
Bright Green Future is a national programme designed to help young people gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to make a difference. We're looking for those aged 15-17 who are interested in the environment and are looking for a new challenge.
Co-op’s Green Schools Revolution
These inspiring resources cover key topics like energy, water, healthy living, fair enterprise and biodiversity, and include teacher notes, full of fantastic activities, lesson plans, assemblies and pupil worksheets.
Eco-Schools is an international award programme that guides schools on their sustainable journey, providing a framework to help embed these principles into the heart of school life.
Green Schools Project
Provides resources and guides to students and a coordinator to enable them to easily deliver a fun and engaging environmental programme. It will become a network of environmentally friendly schools, providing competitions, links to businesses, work experience opportunities, and enable sharing of good practice.
Water Explorer encourages students aged 8-14 from 11 countries to take bold and powerful action to save our precious water through fun, interactive water saving missions.
Solar Aid’s Sunny Schools
The programme helps primary schools to bring these vital issues to life in an investigative and practical manner, increasing understanding around energy and global citizenship whilst working towards a more sustainable school and community life.
Seed offers a range of teaching resources to support schools on their journey to becoming Sustainable Schools.
MetLink Climate Change Schools Project
A set of resources to increase climate literacy in pupils.