Schools going green

The finalists for this year’s Ashden School Awards, the UK’s leading green energy awards, have been announced

Ashton Vale Primary School in Bristol, Sir George Monoux College in Walthamstow, London, and St Faith’s Independent School in Cambridge are all taking big strides towards cutting carbon emissions and lowering fuel bills by taking simple steps and inspiring their students to help save the planet.

Now in their 14th year, the Ashden Awards champion practical, local energy solutions that cut carbon, reduce poverty and improve people’s lives in the UK and developing world.

Ashton Vale Primary School, Bristol

Three years ago, senior staff at Ashton Vale Primary School in Bristol were disappointed to receive the lowest DEC rating of G. Grasping the nettle, they used available funding to invest in energy-saving measures like wall and roof insulation, converting the school’s old oil-fired boiler to gas and installing solar panels. Staff and students have embraced the energy-saving challenge, with classroom ‘eco warriors’ checking that lights and equipment are switched off, and that temperatures are no higher than needed. The efforts have paid off with a new DEC rating of ‘C’.

Sir George Monoux College, Walthamstow, London

This Sixth Form College is an example of how young people can be inspired in a short space of time to help save the planet. As well as switching to low-energy lighting and installing efficient boilers, Principal Paolo Ramella has inspired students to embrace his vision of a carbon-neutral college. Creative ways of getting the message across include an open-air ‘eco gym’ where students can use their own energy to charge their mobiles. Furthermore, the income from electricity generated from the college’s solar panels is annually financing scholarships for ten students. Put simply, the College is turning sunlight into education.

St Faith’s Independent School, Cambridge

The independent prep school is committed towards cutting energy use from the ‘very top’ – with solar panels on the school roofs the most obvious sign of its green credentials. Further low-cost steps include pupils making simple heat reflectors for radiators out of cardboard and kitchen foil, and improving insulation. With its most recently built Passivhaus building hardly needing any heating, backing everything up is a rigorous regime for monitoring energy use and incentives for all staff to change energy habits.

Two Ashden School Award winners will be announced at ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 22 May, each to receive a prize of £5,000.

Follow #Ashden14 and @AshdenAwards on twitter to keep up with information about this year’s Ashden Awards.

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