ISBA gets ReEnergised

ReEnergise exhibited at ISBA for the first time this year. Director Tarquin Henderson was suitably impressed

Independent Education Today: What were your impressions of the ISBA conference?

Tarquin Henderson: This was the first time my company, ReEnergise, has exhibited at IBSA. I was impressed by the number of bursars attending and their genuine interest in gathering information from the range of exhibitors present. While clearly this is a chance for delegates to network and receive useful updates on market drivers, the exhibition plays an important role in the event – it’s not just a side-show.

IET: What are the main attractions of the event for your company?

TH: Everyone is busy and bursars in particular have plenty on their plate during the normal course of business. What worked really well was the chance to talk in an environment where there were no real time pressures. We offer independent, impartial advice on energy management issues and what role renewable energy might play now or in the future. We also offer project finance to schools looking to invest in energy efficiency. These are relatively involved issues that don’t sell off the back of a display advert. Talking face-to-face is crucial to us.

IET: How well did the event go for your company?

TH: It went very well. We were not throwing freebies at all and sundry so I think the people we spoke to had a genuine interest in what we do and how we might help them. We have plenty of conversations now underway so I am delighted by the results of our first ISBA Conference.

IET: More generally, how are things going at the moment?

TH: Our market is only really at the beginning of a sustained growth phase. There are very few organisations where energy is not an increasing financial burden. The key is to develop a strategy to tackle these challenges and avoid making isolated, technology-led decisions without a broader plan in place. We are talking to an increasing number of schools that recognise both the challenge and opportunity facing them and want support in developing their response to these. That is where we can offer a great deal of help.

IET: What are the key trends in your sector at the moment, and how are you adapting to changing market conditions?

TH: The obvious one is rising fuel costs but these are increasingly being put into the context of issues such as the need to improve energy efficiency across a campus, energy security (keeping the lights on) and positioning the school as a sustainable enterprise concerned about the environment.

Our challenge is to put the ‘new new thing’ into context for business owners and, in this market, school bursars. It’s easy to get confused about particular technologies and what relevance they might have to you – PV, CHP, Voltage Optimisation, the list goes on. Understandably it is tempting to put the shutters up just to avoid the techno-babble but in effect there are a plethora of options that might make a real difference to a school’s energy consumption. We aim to provide the expertise to guide our clients through these without slick-suited salesmen pushing for a deal.

IET: What future changes do you anticipate, both for the sector, and for your company?

TH: We are excited about the future because there is so much that can be done, and done in an affordable manner. The key is for anyone involved in renewables or energy efficiency more generally to build trust amongst the school bursar community. Bursars need to feel confident that renewable energy is not snake oil and has a genuine role to play in the effective financial management of independent schools.

We hope we are well placed to advise on this and as Chair of a Prep school in Surrey I appreciate very much the particular challenges independent schools are facing in today’s market.

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