Achieving sustainability through smart solutions in Scottish Schools

Client: Dumfries and Galloway (D&G) Council and Scottish Borders Council 

Value: £1.5million (D&G) £790k (Scottish Border Council) 

Timeframe: D&G - 5 months;  Scottish Borders 7 months 

The challenge  

As many schools strive to balance maintaining facilities and managing budgets, achieving Carbon Reduction Targets set by the Scottish Government and subsequently reducing spending on energy use is increasingly coming under scrutiny.   

In schools, lighting is one of the largest running costs, often accounting for circa 20% of the total energy bill. This was something both D&G and the Scottish Borders Council wanted to reduce by better managing their assets – to boost efficiency, lower carbon emissions, and safeguard public funds.   

Our response 

D&G and the Scottish Borders Council wanted to reduce energy output with a smarter lighting solution in eight Public-Private Partnership (PPP) schools across Dumfriesshire and three PPP schools in the Scottish Borders.  

Over the last two years, Amey worked in partnership with our clients to develop the most effective ‘Smart lighting’ solution for each school, maximising the return for the council’s investments, both in carbon reduction and cost. 

The evidence for this was provided by Projects team and Supply Chain partners who provided a detailed survey report setting out the options available to meet the required saving and funding criteria.  

Given the sheer volume of fittings and the challenging nature of the school environment, the programme for installation was critical from the outset.   

Through careful, effective planning and management and by flexible working around the school availability, we were able to ensure all areas were returned to full operation prior to the school reopening each day. The 6-week school holiday period was utilised to target the larger secondary schools, allowing large open spaces and areas where specialist access was required to be completed safely.   

Working closely alongside our supply chain partner CEF & Powertech, we ensured all the survey data was accurate and up to date prior to the final materials being ordered to help minimise unnecessary cost. Throughout the whole process, our project team carefully coordinated the material availability/installation to ensure the specified new smart lighting solution would provide long-term, cost-effective, sustainable energy savings, while still maintaining optimum lux levels to the client's satisfaction.  

The solution provided was a smart lighting system which utilises cutting edge technology optimising flexibility and Control. Self-dim, self-switch, can be adjusted via a mobile App and the fittings used are future-proofed allow the installation of more innovative technology as it develops. 

The smart lighting system provides improved efficiencies, by using technology to detect human presence and natural light, adjusting the light levels to only emit what is needed. This ability is a great benefit to a space with fluctuating footfall levels and ensures each school runs as efficiently as possible.  

The solution enables the quieter areas of the schools to save on energy costs, whilst ensuring the busier areas of the building are always properly illuminated. With this system, lighting energy savings of up to 60% can be achieved. 

The success of the project in Dumfries and Galloway (D&G) lead to our Secure Infrastructure teams who look after three Public-Private Partnership (PPP) schools on behalf of the Scottish Borders Council to apply the same expertise and best practice to reduce energy output at their schools.  


All eleven Public-Private Partnership schools across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders now benefit from a smart, efficient and powerful lighting system. Classrooms, recreational areas and learning materials for students and computers are now displayed in clean, crisp lighting, helping pupils and teaching staff to concentrate and reduce fatigue. 

The benefits to Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders Council: 

  • Lower energy costs: saving around 60% a year on lighting cost. 
  • CO2 emissions reduced by approx. 700 tonnes per annum across the schools in D&G and the Scottish Borders. 
  • Improved lighting that helps improve comfort and reduce tiredness for pupils and employees. 
  • Future-proofed for installation of more innovative technology at a later date

Mark Baillie, Dumfries and Galloway Council: 
“Dumfries and Galloway Council, like other Local Authorities, face the challenge of reducing their carbon footprint and to improve efficiency. Central to this is improving the efficiency and performance of our built environment and estate.  

We have been proactive in working with our partners to take measures to improve energy and carbon-related performance for the betterment of the Dumfries and Galloway Community, by changing the way we work and by supporting the implementation of more efficient and cost-effective technical solutions where opportunities exist.  

The Dumfries and Galloway PPP Smart Lighting project is a prominent example of where technical solutions are making a significant contribution to our environmental agenda.  

Not only is the Authority benefitting from all energy, carbon and cost savings being delivered as a consequence of the project, but this represents a significant investment in the learning environment for our young people and wider communities. We look forward to achieving the financial, environmental and broader social benefit that we expect the scheme will realise within our region.” 

The project was also 2nd place at the Scottish Energy Efficiency Awards, beaten only by Transport Scotland’s LED rollout across the entire Country.