10 simple ways to become more sustainable
With COP26 hosted in Glasgow, the Government publishing its ‘Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener’, and all eyes focused on how we will achieve net zero, we caught up with UK & Ireland’s leading Energy-as-a-Service provider, eEnergy, to discuss how the education sector can become more sustainable. During our conversation, we found out that schools in the UK currently waste over £150 million in energy inefficiency every year, and shockingly up to 25% of energy consumption is used when schools are closed.
So here are our 10 simple but effective ways your school can become more sustainable.
#1 Make the switch to LED lighting
Did you know that the cost of lighting equates to up to 50% of your electricity costs? At present, only 30% of schools are using LED lighting, when there are numerous advantages to using it. LED has a longer lifespan compared to traditional light bulbs, it provides better quality lighting (say goodbye to the glare on your classroom boards) and also uses less heat. Most importantly though, LED lighting is much more energy efficient and comes with a lower price tag.
#2 Change your behaviours, and influence others!
You’ll be amazed to know that energy bills can be reduced by up to 10% by making simple behavioural changes. Simple actions, such as turning off lights and screens, unplugging appliances that are not in use, or turning off the heating rather than opening windows, can have a huge effect on the amount of energy wastage. Whilst you make simple behavioural changes to become more sustainable, it is really important to influence others to do the same.
#3 Walk or cycle to school
Encourage all staff and students to walk or cycle to school at least one day a week in order to cut down on their transport emissions. Reducing the amount of petrol and diesel cars on the road, will play a big part in achieving net zero, therefore an easy way to become more sustainable is using carbon neutral modes of transport. However, if you have students or staff who are not in a suitable distance to cycle or walk to school, rather than driving in their individual cars, they should carpool, or use public transport in order to limit the number of cars on the road.
#4 Operate smarter buildings
You can reduce your energy bills by another potential 10% by operating smarter buildings, which can be done in a number of ways, here are a few examples. 1) Address your heating; if it only takes half an hour to heat up the building and the school doesn’t open until 8am, there is no point having the heating on any earlier then 7:30am, this will increase your heating bills and emit unnecessary carbon. 2) Use motion sensors on your light fixtures so if the lights are left on by mistake, they will turn off automatically due to a lack of motion. You can also have different sensors on different panels, so if you are occupying one side of the room only those lights will be on.
#5 Meat and dairy free meal days
Sustainability can also be introduced into your catering provisions. By having meat and dairy free meal days every week, you can cut down the carbon footprint of your meals. Meat consumption has a direct impact on climate change, the meat industry plays a huge part in deforestation and animals themselves produce methane (a greenhouse gas), both of which have a large impact on the atmosphere and carbon levels. Ultimately, the meat industry runs on supply and demand; less demand results in less supply which is more sustainable for the environment.
#6 Think before you print
The printing industry has a huge effect on deforestation and pollution; the effects are found through the process, from making paper, to transporting materials, all the way to ink cartridges ending up in landfill. And of course, you could purchase recycled paper or refill your cartridges to lower your printing emissions, but before you print, ask yourself if it is really necessary. Can a document be shared online or instead of providing a handout that will end up in the bin, can you project the information on a board. But if you do print….
Recycling is one of the easiest steps in becoming more sustainable; make sure you have recycling and compost bins around your classrooms, kitchens and breakout areas and label them clearly with what can be put in each one. The lack of recycling leads to more rubbish in landfill which releases pollution into the atmosphere, having additional bins can quickly reduce your carbon footprint. You could even have a recycling monitor to help teach your students the importance of reducing landfill waste.
#8 Upcycle and donate
If you are looking to refurbish your classrooms or buy new equipment, you don’t have to buy brand-new furniture. You could procure second-hand and upcycled products; not only will you reduce carbon emissions, but you’ll also save money. Alternatively, if you have furniture or equipment that you no longer need, speak to neighbouring schools to see if they could benefit from them. Sourcing and sharing second-hand goods are an easy and cost-effective way of becoming more sustainable, and also has a social value impact.
#9 Eliminate single-use plastic
Plastic is harmful to wildlife and the environment as it often ends up in landfill or the ocean. You could ban single-use plastic on your premises in a number of different ways; include reusable bottles as part of the school uniform or replace your kitchens cling film with alternatives such as silicone lids or wax covers.
#10 Start reporting your energy consumption
In order to track the success of your sustainability measures, it is important to have visibility of your energy usage. By having the energy data available at the start of the process, you’ll be able to measure your savings, and see what initiatives are the most effective in reducing your carbon footprint and the cost of your bills.
To find out more about how Place Group can help you meet your net zero vision objectives efficiently and effectively and become more sustainable email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All statistics in the post have been provided by eEnergy.