Creating sustainable schools can achieve great things! It is estimated that school and university facilities produce over ten per cent of national carbon emissions just through their energy use. Due to their footprint and reach, they are likely to have equivalent impacts on land-use, water usage and waste management. Billions of pounds are also held by these institutions in investments through pension funds and endowments.
These establishments provide accommodation and services for hundreds of thousands of people and own huge buildings central to many cities and towns. They often characterise a place and offer jobs for a high percentage of a local population. These places can become hubs where people learn how to make a better future. Sustainable schools can also become shining examples in their use of energy and sustainable practices.
Here you will learn about what you can do as a parent, staff member or student to help initiate change in these important and very visible institutions.
How to improve sustainability
The opportunity to reduce impacts from these organisations is great. Energy efficiency measures, renewable heating and electricity, could make these places net energy contributors, whilst being hubs for energy storage. Early adopting sustainable schools and universities have already begun installing solar panels, but sadly a number are still reinstalling aged oil and gas central heating systems. This persists even where there is a great opportunity to install renewable alternatives.
Methods of transport to and from these places can also be greatly improved through encouragement to use two-wheeler vehicles, shared transport schemes and electric cars. It is also possible for these organisations to greatly improve environmentally friendly practices around food, waste and educational resources.
Funds held by these organisations have often become a target for campaigners, resulting in many divesting pensions and other endowed holdings. However, it should be noted that non-private organisations have their pensions and budgets managed by local councils.
What is holding back progress?
For most organisations, the single biggest barrier to implement new practices is money, with knowledge, time and support for change also being major issues. Many receive some form of professional support to help them consider sustainability, but with institutional resistance and finance being barriers, they often do not propose bold solutions. Sustainability has an annual budget which is mostly spent on reporting an institution’s annual impact.
Capital expenditures which reduce the overhead costs of an institution are considered major projects and when they are proposed they are usually dismissed due to tight budget restrictions. Those managing finances often need to see 1-3 year returns on invested time, money and resources. This approach misses the opportunities over a 10-20 year period represented by very high potential returns from investments such as solar panels or heat pump installation.
Most do have a school sustainability plan. This is often created to demonstrate that the organisation has given these issues some thought and to ensure they meet mandated requirements. These plans sometimes are embedded in the strategic thinking of an organisation, but more often than not they are simply a sideline.
On divesting funds, the biggest thing holding organisations back is the difficulty in moving these funds with the time and attention people can invest in making this change. It is often complex to move pension funds – you can learn more about this on our Divesting Pensions pages.
What can be done to support change?
Informing people of what can be done, alongside the creation of institutional support, are the two biggest ways to enable change. To do that, a single person or a group of people will need to consider what could be done by the organisation.
Often the glossy sustainability report is the best place to start, to consider alongside some blue-sky thinking about what is possible. Our pages on Better Homes offer a huge resource in considering building management, whilst our pages on Better Living offer thought-provoking resources on food, fashion and technology.
In addition, our community site offers support – simply ask a question and someone should come to your aid!
Research your project
The research stage can be incredibly time consuming and therefore it’s often best to go to meet the professional who deals with sustainability at the organisation. You should consider the scope for changes prior to meeting them and ask for a tour of what’s been done at their site. Often these individuals are very willing to spare the time to help educate someone from within the organisation who may be willing to help.
You may then be in a position to start talking with other members of the community around the organisation about what they think should be done. Sometimes you can get support to host a gathering and this could then form the basis of a group to think about sustainability.
Do have a look out for groups that have already started and don’t be put off by any existing lack of progress. If there is already a group, then your injection of energy and the support from our community could make all the difference!
Find the funding
By this stage you should have realised the scope of the potential changes that could be made, with perhaps some idea of the costs required to implement them. It can be extremely beneficial to, at this point, consider how to overcome the biggest barrier of all – the money.
Often what isn’t considered by organisations is the potential to raise money to fund capital improvements. This doesn’t have to entail a charitable fundraising effort. It is possible to create bonds in capital improvement and sell them as investments to stakeholders.
This type of thinking is complex. Where possible it’s best to tap into demonstration projects which have done similar things. We are hoping to develop a library of such demonstrations within our community website, so if you do any research, we would love you to please share it!
Meet with the board
When you’ve got all your ducks in a row it’s time to get a meeting with the board of the organisation, or if they don’t respond to you or the group, then to campaign for changes. Simple commitments are best to frame such a meeting, they offer incredible PR benefits for the organisation and are easy for others to support. Here are some top potential commitments you could campaign for:
- Make xx school carbon neutral by 2030 by: –
- Moving all school consumed electricity to 100% renewable by 2025.
- Replacing all existing heating systems with renewable alternatives by 2030.
- Meet 50% of the school’s electricity needs by producing solar energy by 2025.
- Divest the school’s pension fund entirely away from fossil fuels by 2025.
- Allow only electric vehicles to park on school premises by 2035.
- Move all school meals to 100% vegan by 2023.
Of course, there are numerous ways of creating very different types of commitments and we welcome you to share your thoughts and experiences within our community area.
Join Better Century
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Some charities recommended by our community than can help a member of a school make change
|Action for Conservation||https://www.actionforconservation.org/schools||To bring the magic of nature into young people's lives, inspiring a youth movement committed to conservation and to the earth.|
|Campaign Against Climate Change||https://www.campaigncc.org/aboutus/whoweare||Help coordinate action related to climate change|
|Climate Outreach||https://climateoutreach.org||Support organisations and individuals engage with climate change|
|Extinction Rebellion||https://rebellion.earth/||Extinction Rebellion is a global environmental movement with the stated aim of using nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government action to avoid tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse.|
|Friends of the Earth||https://friendsoftheearth.uk/|
|Go Fossil Free||https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/what-is-fossil-fuel-divestment/||Advice on how to divest|
|Happy School Bag||http://www.happyschoolbag.co.uk/||Happy School Bag is an easy fundraising scheme that helps schools, clubs and other organisations to raise funds through the collection of pre-loved reusable clothing.|
|Keep Britain Tidy||https://www.keepbritaintidy.org||Keep Britain Tidy is a UK-based independent environmental charity. The organisation campaigns to reduce litter, improve local places and prevent waste. It also runs Eco Schools, an intitative to improve how schools function.|
|Possible LTD||https://www.wearepossible.org||Partner of Better Century: Empower communities to tackle climate change|
|Students Organising for Sustainability||https://sustainability.nus.org.uk/||Educational charity that seeks to get more students leading on and learning about sustainability.|
|The Wildlife Trusts||https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/||The Wildlife Trusts, the trading name of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, is an organisation made up of 46 local Wildlife Trusts in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and Alderney. The Wildlife Trusts, between them, look after around 2,300 nature reserves covering more than 98,000 hectares.|
|Trees for Cities||https://www.treesforcities.org||Trees for cities support local communities to engage with nature, a major factor for individual environmental awareness.|
|WWF||https://www.wwf.org.uk/||World Wildlife Fund|
Professional services recommended by our community for investigation into sustainability measures
|BioRegional||https://www.bioregional.com||Support organisations and places become more sustainable|
|Carbon Footprint||https://www.carbonfootprint.com/||Carbon footprint|
|Climate Care||https://climatecare.org/||Carbon Offsetting|
|Climate Stewards||https://www.climatestewards.org/||Carbon Offsetting|
|Ends Directory||https://www.endsdirectory.com/||Directory of suppliers to support businesses|
|Forum for the Future||https://www.forumforthefuture.org/||Consultancy that supports businesses and governments tackle complex challenges|
|Greenredeem||https://www.greenredeem.co.uk/||Recycling & Water Reward Scheme for everyday green actions with incentivised recycling|
|SustainAbility||http://sustainability.com/who-we-are/||Consultancy that supports businesses to operate more sustainably|
|WORK WILD LIMITED||https://workwild.space||Maximising staff through engagement with nature|
|1 World Solar||http://www.1worldsolar.co.uk/|
|AD Heating Ltd||http://www.adheating.co.uk/|
|AGMS Independent Energy||https://www.agmsenergy.com/|
|Anderson Floor Warming And Renewables||https://www.andersonfloorwarming.co.uk/|
|Aran Services Ltd||https://www.aranservices.co.uk/|
|Bioheat Energy Limited||https://www.bioheat.co.uk/||Provide renewable heating systems|
|Box Power||https://www.boxergy.com||Provide renewable heating systems|
|Carbon Trust||https://www.carbontrust.com||Support people and organisations to reduce carbon|
|Darren Evans||http://www.darren-evans.co.uk/||Provide sustainability services for work places|
|Energy Saving Trust||http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/about-us||Impartial advice to save energy|
|Energy Solutions||https://www.energy-solutions.co.uk/about-us||Manufacturer and supply chain provider|
|Eternal Energy Systems Ltd||https://www.eternalenergysystems.co.uk/|
|GenFIT c/o PV FIT Ltd||https://www.generationfit.co.uk/|
|Green Building Store||https://www.greenbuildingstore.co.uk/||Partner of Better Century: Products and support for energy efficient homes and buildings. Triple glazed windows & doors, MVHR ventilation, airtightness & insulation.|
|Greenscape Energy Ltd||https://greenscapeenergy.co.uk/|
|Hero Renewables Ltd||http://herorenewables.co.uk/|
|Low Carbon Hub||https://www.lowcarbonhub.org/||Support businesses to install renewable energy systems|
|MIG Renewable Technologies Ltd||http://migrenewables.com/|
|Navitas Sustainable Heating Systems Limited||http://www.navitassystems.co.uk/|
|Peak Power Systems Ltd||https://www.peakpowersystems.co.uk/|
|Perfect Sense Energy||https://perfectsenseenergy.com/|
|Pure Solar Ltd T/A Pure Renewables||http://purerenewables.co.uk/|
|PV Renewable Energy LTD||http://pvrenewables.co.uk/|
|R-ECO The Renewable Energy Co-operative||http://www.r-eco.coop/|
|Robinsons M & E||https://www.robinsonsmea.com/||Commercial providers|
|Save Money Cut Carbon||https://www.savemoneycutcarbon.com/||Partner of Better Century: The go-to people for homes and organisations to reduce energy and water bills.|
|Zhyphen||https://zhyphen.com/||Zhyphen Energy Storage Systems can store the free, abundant energy from solar, wind or other renewable energy sources.|
|Bulb Energy Limited||https://bulb.co.uk/|
|Green Network Energy Ltd||https://greennetworkenergy.co.uk/|
|Green Star Energy||https://www.mygreenstarenergy.com/|
|The People's Power Partnership||https://thepeoplespower.co.uk/|
|Tonik Energy||https://www.tonikenergy.com/||Partner of Better Century|
|Enviromat||https://www.enviromat.co.uk/||Supplier of green roof substrate|
|Green Roofs Direct||http://www.greenroofsdirect.com/||Supplier of services to install green walls and roofs|
|Sedum Supply Ltd||https://www.sedumsupply.co.uk/||UK manufacturer of green roofs - offer consultancy and support.|
|1 World Solar||http://www.1worldsolar.co.uk/||South West|
|AD Heating Ltd||http://www.adheating.co.uk/||Scotland|
|AES Ltd||https://aessolar.co.uk/||UK Wide|
|AGMS Independent Energy||https://www.agmsenergy.com/||Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire.|
|Aissac Electrical & Solar||https://www.aissac.co.uk/||Aberdeenshire|
|Anderson Floor Warming And Renewables||https://www.andersonfloorwarming.co.uk/||Scotland|
|AR POWER||http://www.arpower.co.uk/||North East|
|Aran Services Ltd||https://www.aranservices.co.uk/||East|
|Beond Group||https://beondgroup.com||UK Wide|
|Bradley Refrigeration||http://www.bradley-refrigeration.com/||North||Air conditioning and renewables supplier|
|Cambridge Solar Ltd||https://www.cambridge-solar.co.uk/||Cambridge|
|Chelsfield Solar||http://www.chelsfieldsolar.co.uk/||South East||Solar PV|
|Darren Evans||http://www.darren-evans.co.uk/||UK Wide||Provide sustainability services for work places|
|Eco2Solar||https://eco2solar.co.uk/||UK Wide||Installers of Solar PV for Commercial Construction projects|
|Ecocetera Limited||https://www.ecocetera.com/||South West, Wales||Solar PV, Battery Storage|
|Ecovolt Environment||https://www.ecovoltenvironment.com/||South East|
|Energy Saving Trust||http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/about-us||UK Wide||Impartial advice to save energy|
|Energy Solutions||https://www.energy-solutions.co.uk/about-us||East||Manufacturer and supply chain provider|
|Eternal Energy Systems Ltd||https://www.eternalenergysystems.co.uk/||East|
|Exeo Energy Ltd||https://www.exeoenergy.co.uk/||Oxfordshire|
|GenFIT c/o PV FIT Ltd||https://www.generationfit.co.uk/||South|
|Green Building Store||https://www.greenbuildingstore.co.uk/||UK Wide||Partner of Better Century: Products and support for energy efficient homes and buildings. Triple glazed windows & doors, MVHR ventilation, airtightness & insulation.|
|Green Shop Solar||https://www.greenshopsolar.co.uk/||Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Greenscape Energy Ltd||https://greenscapeenergy.co.uk/||East Anglia|
|H2ecO Ltd||https://h2-eco.com/||South West|
|Hero Renewables Ltd||http://herorenewables.co.uk/||North West|
|Low Carbon Hub||https://www.lowcarbonhub.org/||Oxfordshire||Support businesses to install renewable energy systems|
|Micro-Renewable Solutions||https://www.microrenewable.co.uk/||Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire|
|MIG Renewable Technologies Ltd||http://migrenewables.com/||South West|
|Mole Energy||https://www.moleenergy.com/||South West||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Naked Solar||https://nakedsolar.co.uk/||Cornwall||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Navitas Solar Installations Ltd||http://www.navitas-solar.com/||Sheffield||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Navitas Sustainable Heating Systems Limited||http://www.navitassystems.co.uk/||South West|
|Oxford Solar PV||http://www.oxfordsolarpv.co.uk/||Oxfordshire||Partner of Better Century: Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Peak Power Systems Ltd||https://www.peakpowersystems.co.uk/||North|
|Perfect Sense Energy||https://perfectsenseenergy.com/||North West|
|Public Power Solutions||https://www.publicpowersolutions.co.uk||UK Wide||Support local authorities in setting up renewable energy projects|
|Pure Solar Ltd T/A Pure Renewables||http://purerenewables.co.uk/||North East|
|PV Renewable Energy LTD||http://pvrenewables.co.uk/||Witham, Danbury and Maldon Essex|
|R-ECO The Renewable Energy Co-operative||http://www.r-eco.coop/||Oxfordshire|
|Rudge Energy||https://rudgeenergy.co.uk/||South West||Solar PV, Battery Storage|
|Save Money Cut Carbon||https://www.savemoneycutcarbon.com/||UK Wide||Partner of Better Century: The go-to people for homes and organisations to reduce energy and water bills.|
|Sims Solar Ltd||http://www.simssolar.co.uk/||Oxfordshire||Solar PV, Battery Storage|
|So Go Solar Ltd||https://sogosolar.co.uk/||London and South East||Solar PV, Battery Storage|
|Sol PV Group Ltd||https://www.solpvgroup.co.uk/||UK Wide|
|Solar Star Power Limited||https://solarstarpower.com/||Midlands||Solar PV, Battery Storage|
|Solar UK Ltd||http://www.solaruk.com/||Sussex||Solar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems|
|Solar Voltaics||https://www.solar-voltaics.com/?doing_wp_cron=1576509220.4467060565948486328125||Sussex||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Solarfit||https://www.solarfit.net/||South Wales||Solar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems|
|Solarkinetics Ltd||https://www.solarkinetics.co.uk/||Herefordshire||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Solarsense UK||https://www.solarsense-uk.com/||UK Wide||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging, Heating Systems|
|Solinvictus||http://solinvictus.co.uk/||Hertfordshire||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Solstice Energy Ltd||http://www.solsticeenergy.co.uk/?LMCL=PDRAIk||Gloucestershire||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Spirit Energy||https://www.spiritenergy.co.uk/||Berkshire, and South||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging, Consultancy|
|Sunfarming UK Ltd||http://sunfarming.co.uk/||Devon and South West||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|SunGift Energy||https://www.sungiftsolar.co.uk/||Devon and South West||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Sunuser Limited||http://www.sunuser.co.uk/||Leeds and Surrounding Area||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Sussex Solar||http://sussexsolar.com/||Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Hampshire||Solar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems|
|Synergy Power Ltd||http://www.synergypowerltd.co.uk/||West Midlands||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|T4 Sustainability Ltd||http://www.t4sltd.co.uk/||Derbyshire||Solar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems|
|The Good Heat Company||http://www.goodheat.co.uk/||South Devon||Solar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems|
|The Solar Electrician Ltd||https://the-solar-electrician.com/||Solihull, West Midlands||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Tonik Energy||https://www.tonikenergy.com/||UK Wide||Partner of Better Century|
|Total Renewable Solutions||http://www.totalrenewablesolutions.com/||Somerset||Solar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems|
|Treadlighter||https://treadlighter.co.uk/||London||Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging|
|Trina Solar||https://www.trinasolar.com||UK Wide|
|UK Alternative Energy||https://www.ukalternativeenergy.co.uk/||Licolnshire||Solar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems, EV Charging|
|ZLC Energy||https://zlcenergy.co.uk/||Cornwall||Solar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems, EV Charging|