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LESS CO2 sustainable schools programme

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Ashley Primary School children show off their biomass boiler

Through our Low Energy Sustainable Schools Programme (LESS CO2) we are helping create more sustainable schools – and galvanising young people to join the movement for a low-carbon world.

We established the LESS CO2 Programme in 2010 in response to requests from schools for practical, hands-on mentoring to help them make the changes they need to reduce their energy bills and to help build a low-carbon future.

How the programme works

Each year-long scheme includes four workshops covering various aspects of energy saving, from recording meter readings to monitoring energy use, developing new policies and practices and exploring carbon-saving options. As well as the workshops, participants also receive:

  • mentoring from Ashden Award-winning schools
  • an energy audit of each school
  • advice on steps to reduce energy use.

Impact so far

So far some 40 primary and secondary schools in Devon, Cornwall and East Sussex are benefiting from LESS CO2. Ashden School Award winners Okehampton College in Devon, St.Columb Minor in Cornwall and Ringmer College in East Sussex are providing mentoring, with our support.

The results of the LESS CO2 programme to date are impressive: In 2012, participating schools in Devon and Cornwall saved an average of £5,000 on their energy bills, inspired pupils and staff to change their behaviour and started to integrate sustainability throughout the curriculum.

For example, Queens Elizabeth School in Devon has saved a staggering £16,000 a year – that’s 20 percent of their electricity bill – simply from installing a system that automatically switches off computers at the end of the day.

Launceston Primary School has started up a traffic light system to reward behaviour change: classrooms are checked and given green, amber or red lights, based on how well they are doing. The result has been a 10 percent reduction in their electricity bill.

Creating a win-win-win

As well as cutting their fuel bills, LESS CO2 schools are making significant carbon savings, with schools in Devon and Cornwall reducing their CO2 emissions by over 300 tonnes over the course of last year’s programme. Many schools are also reporting a greater sense of community from the local support networks that have been created through participating in LESS CO2.

And the benefits don’t stop there. By encouraging schools to work with local contractors such as solar power installers and energy efficiency advisors, LESS CO2 is also helping boost local economies.

Useful links

Eco Schools
Sustainability and Environmental Education (SEED)
Carbon Trust