CRed in Schools

Global warming is having an impact already but is a real threat to our children and grandchildren. There are eight million children at school across the UK. That should inspire us all to take our environment more seriously and to tackle the challenge of global warming.

Jessica Crane of Norwich High School for Girls told the audience at the CRed launch at the Palace of Westminster on 21st March that her friends at school were full of enthusiasm and bursting with ideas.

CRed will work with schools to help them become really involved in the CRed challenge and to tap into the enthusiasm and ideas of young people like Jessica. Looking after the environment is a central plank of good citizenship. Carbon reduction and the environment can be a vital part of the curriculum.

There is a great deal to do. It is estimated that schools spend three times more on energy than on books. Schools across the country live with the legacy of poorly designed buildings. Energy use in many schools is going up not coming down, due to increased use of IT and the energy consumed by computers and other equipment.

Electricity costs are nearly half the total energy costs of the typical school. About half of this goes on lighting and nearly half the rest on IT equipment.

Some schools have made great strides in saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions through simple measures such as better electricity management, classroom lighting control and installation of room thermostats.

Electricity bills dropped by £800 a year at Needham Market Middle School in Suffolk after an energy efficiency policy was integrated into the school’s development plan. Such action not only saves money and energy. It also creates a healthier and more productive environment for working and learning.

But there is a great shortage of resource to help schools take even quite simple steps like this - despite the cost savings that can be achieved and the benefits to the environment and to pupils. But putting pupils at the centre of energy-saving measures really can help change behaviour and motivate pupils to engage with their impact on the environment. CRed will work with schools and advisors to help create such change.

Refurbishment of older schools and construction of new school buildings offer huge opportunities that must not be missed. Schools can become flagships for their communities to inspire pupils and to demonstrate the benefits of low-carbon construction.

High-performance building need not cost more. Low energy costs will yield great savings over the years as well as greatly reduced CO2 emissions. Just as important is the impact on pupils and teachers. An American study has found that: “daily average attendance at high-performance schools increases, while teachers encounter fewer behavioural problems. Additionally, teachers enjoy working at the schools and even flock to get jobs there”.