We were the first London council to declare a climate emergency, and we're committed to reaching net zero by 2030. We identified schools as a significant carbon producer and a place where we could not only invest in sustainable technology but deliver meaningful benefits for students and teachers.
We contacted schools across the borough to explain our plans and goals for carbon reduction. The sustainable upgrades would be government-funded and at no cost to them. In fact, they would save each school money through a reduction in energy bills. Following this initial outreach, we hosted several webinars to answer questions and expand on the details of the scheme.
23 schools agreed to be part of the initiative, and we worked with each school alongside a specialist consultant to understand current carbon output and identify the right changes for the site. For most of the schools taking part this meant adding solar panels to the roof, upgrading all lighting to efficient LEDs, and installing air source heat pumps to reduce emissions. We also looked at efficiency measures, like improving insulation around water pipes.
Though some of the building work is still ongoing, we are already seeing big benefits from the scheme. Not only are the changes reducing Lambeth’s overall carbon footprint, but they are also improving heating and ventilation to create better health and learning experiences for children and teachers. The work is also enabling schools to save on energy costs and spend elsewhere.
The initiative provided an important opportunity for environmental education. We partnered with the Green Schools Project to offer every school involved access to a programme to teach children about the work being undertaken and the importance of renewable energy and sustainability.
The response from the schools involved has been incredibly positive. We’ve already had a significant response and hope to start planning further sustainable works soon.
Take opportunities – We wouldn’t have been able to complete this project without funding from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. Understanding what funding is available and using it smartly is important for local authorities who want to get green schemes off the ground.
Be engaged – Engagement with schools and the local community has been key to the success of the project. Early engagement can help councils to identify key areas for change and act quickly when funding and investment are available.
Partner with experts – This isn’t something we could have achieved alone. We worked with expert energy consultants to understand the current output in each school and identify the changes that could make the most impact.