Home Farm eco reps in the poly tunnel

Home Farm Primary School’s buildings were very inefficient; wasting a lot of money and energy.

Head Teacher, Richard Potter and school Business Manager, Ceri Stammers, have managed to turn around a poorly managed heating system and a heat-leaking building to make Home Farm virtually self-sufficient in energy. They have achieved a 91% reduction in gas use over 5 years and a 61% electricity use reduction over 1 year.

The senior management at Home Farm make a formidable team. Their attitude to energy savings and renewables should be an inspiration to other schools.

Ashden judging panel

Context

The first primary school in Essex to be awarded a Grade B rating in its Energy Performance Certificate, Home Farm is a model of good behaviour.

Between the dream team of Head Teacher Richard Potter and school Business Manager Ceri Stammers, they have managed to turn around a poorly managed heating system and a heat-leaking building to make Home Farm virtually self-sufficient in energy.

Home Farm Primary have installed solar panel on their roof.

The school has an active student Eco Committee, solar panels on the roof and a new building management system has been installed, all contributing to the impressive turnaround in energy efficiency. One of the simplest yet most productive moves was to enclose a central courtyard which has reduced gas consumption to 60% of what you would expect from a building of this type. The school has also seen a 61% reduction in its electricity use.

Impact

Now, the school has an active student Eco Committee, solar panels on the roof and a new building management system has been installed, all contributing to the impressive turnaround in energy efficiency.

It has reduced gas consumption to 60% of what you would expect from a building of this type. The school has also seen a 61% reduction in its electricity use. 

It is the first primary school in Essex to be awarded a Grade B rating for its DEC Energy Performance Certificate.

The introduction of a basic Building Management System (BMS) in 2012 enabled, for the first time, management of the gas heating system to take place.  The system provides both data from and control of the two Hamworthy gas boilers.  

You produce 60% less CO2 than an average school of your size and you only use 20% of the typical amount of grid electricity and 74% of the electrical demand comes from PV. In addition, you use 45% less gas than expected.

Quote from their DEC Assessor

Within the four year tenure of Richard Potter and Cerri Stammers, 200 PV panels (50kW) have been installed producing a FIT payment of £3,700 within the first 10 months of operation and, more importantly, making the school virtually self-sufficient in electricity and saving 25 tonnes of CO2 per year.  The model for the PV installation has already resulted in the replication of the system at five other schools in the county by the same contractor. The funding of the PV panels is on a lease arrangement and is therefore self-funding.

A couple of years ago a central internal courtyard area, which was open to the elements, formed a walkway from which the classrooms could be accessed.  This area also acted as an energy dump pulling heat from the classrooms every time a door was opened.  The enclosure of this area to form a central library and multi-purpose learning area provided not only an attractive teaching space but immediately reduced the gas consumption.

This simple design change has provided a permanent solution to a problem which had existed for nearly 50 years.

Together, the BMS system introduced in 2012 along with the radical step of enclosing the central courtyard has reduced gas consumption by 94%.

Insulated pipes in boiler room.

Detail

The first change at Home Farm was to enclose the internal courtyard, which created a well-insulated central hub for the school, and avoided unnecessary heat loss.

Between them, the Head Teacher and school Business Manager, Ceri Stammers, have managed to turn around a poorly managed heating system and a heat-leaking building to make Home Farm virtually self-sufficient in energy.

Behaviour change

The school is clearly proud of its environmental credentials and staff, both teaching and non-teaching, are aware of the importance of energy management. Teaching staff are responsible for the management of their classrooms including shutting down equipment and turning off lights. The strong environmental ethos is communicated around the school via assemblies, noticeboards and newsletters.

Curriculum

At Home Farm, every year group undertakes an environmental topic during each year.  This includes global topics such as Climate Change as well as practical Design Technology projects using solar power. Wherever possible, the school and its environment are used as teaching aids and pupils are actively encouraged to become involved with activities like gardening and meter reading. 

The future

The school plans to spend its savings on continued improvements in lighting and equipment. It is also investigating solar water heating and considering replacing their boiler with a biomass system.  Additionally, the school plans to continue to share its best practice with others.

In the same way that we teach children to manage their money, their education or their behaviour, we also teach them to have sustainable habits because that is going to be key to their lives in the future… as well as their wallets

Richard Potter, Head teacher