Ground breaking project guarantees Dorset school annual energy savings of £130k

St Marys ribbon cutting web

A ground breaking funding model that offers free efficiency upgrades for organisations with high energy use, has seen a Dorset boarding school guaranteed annual energy savings of £130,000 and a 70% cut in carbon emissions.

Local dignitaries joined businesses and industry leaders for the official unveiling of the project, completed at St Mary’s Shaftesbury.

An all-girls’ boarding school with buildings and an estate dating back to the 1880s, the school had historically been heated by oil and LPG boilers, many of which were over 40 years old and requiring considerable maintenance or replacement at significant expense.

Following the completion of a major upgrade with energy efficiency solutions company Anesco, the school has been transformed into one of the greenest schools in the country, with the whole project delivered at no cost to the school.

The measures have been provided through an ESCO, an investor-funded, shared savings model. The model works by first assessing current energy usage, before recommending which range of measures could be installed to bring the greatest benefits. Measures are then installed at no upfront cost, with the cost of the installation recouped for investors through the savings generated. The agreement with St Mary’s will run for 19 years, after which time ownership of the efficiency measures and the full benefit of the energy savings generated will pass to the school.

“The ESCO model has enabled St Mary’s to undergo a complete transformation, resulting in staggering financial savings on both energy costs and maintenance, along with substantial carbon reduction. A forty year old antiquated heating system has been replaced and the latest in energy efficiency technologies have been installed, ensuring sustainable, long term improvements,” commented Adrian Pike, CEO of Anesco.

“For organisations, businesses and local authorities with high energy usage across multiple buildings and sites, this project is a clear demonstration of how effective the ESCO model can be. As an approach, the ESCO model and its benefits are already firmly established in the US and other European countries, and it’s great to see momentum growing in the UK.”

Among the improvements made at St Mary’s is a 995kWp biomass boiler, now providing heating for the school’s multiple buildings and reducing gas and oil costs by up to 70%. 1600 energy efficient LED lamps have been installed across the school’s many buildings and a 220kWp roof and ground mount solar PV installation is now generating 20% of the school’s electricity requirements.

Additional energy saving measures include a new air handling unit to manage heating for the school’s swimming pool and valve insulation to improve the heating infrastructure.

Smart metering and screens showing energy savings are to be introduced in the school’s four main ‘houses’, with pupils encouraged to think about their own energy use and to take part in a ‘greenest house’ competition.

Richard James, headmaster at St Mary’s, commented: “The ESCO model has exceeded all expectations in what it has enabled the school to do. It would just not have been possible for us to make the huge range of upgrades and to install the technologies we now have without it.”

He added: “For the school, this project goes beyond the upgrades themselves. We are also working hard to encourage behavioural changes and awareness among the student body, to encourage them to think about their own impact. For example we have introduced a recycling initiative that has already seen the total waste recycled by the school increase to around 95%. As the future generation, it is fantastic to see how interested and enthusiastic pupils are about these issues. ”

Anesco works with businesses, local authorities, housing associations and homeowners looking to reduce their carbon emissions.