Powercor’s Technical Director, Chris Wright, explains why the firm is determined to support schools in their efforts to deliver energy efficiencies and create the STEM stars of the future.
Powercor is continuing to build on its expertise gained working with schools and education facilities across the UK as the drive towards net zero gathers pace.
It is a conversation we have been having with schools for nearly two decades and are delighting schools by delivering solutions that pay for themselves.
Schools and educational premises present specific challenges for electrical firms. Not only do you need experienced and expert teams to carry out the work, but they all need to have been DBS checked which allows them to work in venues used by children.
More than any other type of client, the window for the work to be carried out is specific. Rightly they expect the work to be completed during periods when the pupils are not in attendance and buildings are effectively empty. There is no opportunity for delay and as such, the job has to be fully understood and accurately planned.
The needs of schools are changing and many have already embarked on their journey towards sustainability and net-zero. It has created the opportunity for Powercor to enhance partnerships that have been built over many years. Our engagement with schools goes beyond simply the installation and maintenance of lighting systems. We have been heavily involved in the creation and operation of Eco clubs and continue to look at how we can support their efforts to reduce energy use.
Monitoring and tracking energy use
The first step in any school project is automated metering and targeting (AM&T). We deliver the capability to monitor energy use to pick up any anomalies. Schools will rightly think that the bigger the building the more energy-intensive, but it is not always the case.
They are often shocked when they discover one of their smaller buildings is using more energy than its larger premises. Often this can be down to the excessive or inefficient use of heating or light.
Ours is a forensic approach to analyse the electrical infrastructure to create a clear and understandable picture of energy use and highlight inefficiencies.
We work with schools on the installation of LED lighting and emergency lighting systems and provide evidence of the power savings delivered against the previous metering. Very often the savings are so evident that the school will look to widen the project to other areas of the campus.
We often provide the metering for free as this identifies the issues and highlights the benefits of installing energy-saving systems.
The tightening of regulations around emergency lighting systems has also become a key service to the school. The complexity of compliance is only increasing and we have been working with schools to ensure their emergency provision meets the regulatory needs.
Energy savings often pay for any upgrades
Schools are often surprised that the savings made in their energy consumption will be enough to pay for the capital sum needed to fund the new installation. It truly is a revelation for schools when they realise their new system can pay for itself over the period of the Light as a Service contract.
Working with SATRO to highlight the issue
At Powercor, however, we want to go one step further and are working with the charity SATRO on a new competition for schools that revolves around energy-saving initiatives.
The World of Energy Programme encourages schools’ STEM classes to produce ideas to improve the energy efficiency of their schools. These ideas are then judged and the winning school will have those ideas implemented free of charge.
It would be right to say that the vast majority of schools we have worked with over the past 18 years have been private. However, we are keen to engage with state schools so they can also benefit from the savings that can be made and support their sustainability efforts.
As a firm, we are always here to provide advice and information to any school which is keen to explore how they can reduce not only their energy bills but also their carbon footprint, on their journey to net-zero.
We are also proud to play a part in encouraging young people to explore a future in STEM subjects, which will remain so important to our future.