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Monarch explores the savings that schools in Cambridge have enjoyed since adopting energy generation and efficiency measures and how similar adjustments could provide a lifeline to struggling institutions in the aftermath of COVID-19.

The aftershock

While many are welcoming an end to social distancing, the unfortunate reality of lockdown easing is that many schools are now being expected to provide a COVID-safe learning environment with little time and less resources to get those systems in place.

Social distancing, PPE supply and adequate hygiene have proven difficult to maintain in any public forum, much less the chaotic environment of the classroom. However, the logistics of safeguarding the health of students and staff, whilst delivering effective education, are not only complex – they are costly.

Moreover, since the government’s pledge of £4.3bn in additional funding last year has been calculated to “just about reverse” over a decade’s worth of cuts, this latest challenge has left many administrators questioning where the funds will come from.

Improving energy efficiency may be the answer, one city council that adopted this approach in 2014, among others, has reported a reduction of annual energy use of 7,000 MWh across 40 schools.

The year after the scheme’s inception, Siemens Energy Efficiency Financing conducted an analysis, which indicated that, at that time, the education sector was overspending to the tune of £173m per year. The major culprits in this loss, the analysis found, were inefficient equipment and its control.


Diamonds in the rough

The example that these schools have set, finding extra funds among embedded assets, could provide a road map to other institutions that are struggling under the pressures of COVID-19.

While creating new income streams may not be tenable, every school has energy and utility assets that are subject to age and, subsequently, inefficiency.

Classroom heating, for example, accounts for 50% of a typical school’s energy budget and yet so few schools use dynamic monitoring and control to reflect this and try to leverage savings from reduced usage.

We are not suggesting that students should shiver in their seats but intelligent building management would ensure that spaces are not overheating or being heated while unoccupied.

Finally there is the question of supply and utility purchase itself, this can account for some of the major avoidable costs that a school can suffer and often it is simply the result of a lack of time or training.

Since many utility suppliers charge based on average usage, the lockdown period is liable to be one of overcharge for businesses and schools operating on such an arrangement.

In addition to tracking current market changes to secure you the best value for money on utilities, Monarch can also provide retroactive bill validation and chase down refunds that you may be due, thereby freeing those funds for other pursuits.

Monarch has provided expert guidance on procurement and validation across a range of sectors, including schools, housing and to the NHS. We validate over 3 million bills per year and, through sister companies t-mac and Welcome Energy, can also offer on-site generation and combined heating and power systems to offset your future utility costs.



Josh Ellison

Author Josh Ellison

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