In 2018, our technical services team was completing boiler works in local schools and it became apparent that many couldn’t afford the proportion they had to pay towards costs. We allocated funding to support these initial costs and quickly realised that local schools were keen to improve their energy efficiency measures but didn’t have the resources to support this type of work. Our Energy Retrofit project was created to bridge this gap.
We offered maximum grants of £30K in a very open programme that gave schools the flexibility to tell us what they needed and how they proposed to increase energy efficiency. We then worked with them to confirm changes were suitable and provide support to get started. The scheme is not only reducing carbon emissions across the borough, but it’s also reducing energy bills and increasing funds available for school resources and improvements.
The scheme has been very popular with grants awarded to 19 schools and another five currently going through the application process. We’ve had a hugely positive response from the local school community with double the number of applications for the amount of funding available, and £523,000 has been awarded in grants to date.
Another benefit of the programme has been creating a better school environment for pupils and staff. Many schools have fed back that LED lighting implemented through the scheme has created a better learning environment and improved student concentration. Other changes have made schools warmer and improved ventilation.
In Tower Hamlets, we're committed to achieving net-zero across local authority estate by 2025, and schemes like the Energy Retrofit programme are an important step towards meeting this ambitious target. We’re now considering how we can shape future schemes to not only help schools become more energy efficient but to begin to implement renewable energy generation.
Be flexible – Rigid funding programmes can prevent schools from engaging because many have unique needs. It was also important that we offered flexibility through the application process and in respect of submission dates, acknowledging that many of the staff supporting these projects are stretched very thin.
Embrace educational opportunities – Many of the schools we have partnered with have used the works as an opportunity to educate their pupils on issues around climate change and energy consumption.
Reduction in energy bills.