Solving the energy dilemma in Scottish schools

16 March 2023
Children and a mentor learning STEM.
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Amey’s FM Scotland operations director, Diane Gillies, discusses how the business is helping to set out a sustainable vision for the country’s school estates.  

As a provider of FM services to educational facilities across Scotland and the rest of the UK, we recognise that more can be done, to help our clients respond to the climate emergency and minimise the environmental impacts of their estates.  

In January, the Scottish Government published its draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan which sets out ambitious actions for the Scottish Government and industry to chart a clear course for transformation of the energy sector to 2030 and beyond. The strategy sets out how the Scottish Government will meet the challenge of accelerating the decarbonisation of heat in buildings and we stand ready to support our local authority partners to address these challenges. 

Solving the energy dilemma in FM 

Many of our schools were not designed with carbon reduction in mind, and only by working closely with our customers and suppliers can we begin to develop sustainable ways of creating low-cost energy solutions that will create spaces that are optimised for the future.  

The journey to a more sustainable and secure future will not be a short fix. In a sector where PFI defines lifecycle works, we need to provide clients with innovative solutions that will create a better vision for the UK education sector. 

The GHG management protocol, which sets the global standard for how to measure, manage and report greenhouse gas emissions, forms the basis of most decarbonisation strategies, and can be used to develop joint action plans that will support our clients to achieve reductions in emissions across their estate.  

Amey has already embarked on this journey by creating a professional service energy delivery function. These highly skilled individuals are used to promote optimisations, smarter controls, and the implementation of emerging innovations across all our facilities management contracts. 

Embedding these experts within our schools will allow for the creation of improvement plans – paving the way for more sustainable options such as air source heat pumps, district heating, micro-grid electrification, green hydrogen, and wind and photovoltaics – all quick wins that can be addressed using lifecycle budgets. 

Once the basics are in place, we can begin to apply energy management standards such as ISO 50001 which is based on a model of continual improvement. By providing real data insight and build digital models, capital expenditure can be supported and external funding for business cases can be sourced to achieve viable net zero claims and lifecycle growth.  

We have also identified opportunities to help our clients access funding for projects such as LED lighting, fabric replacement and insulation works ensuring schools can make energy efficient improvements with minimal overheads. 

Case study: Scottish Border Council 

We’ve developed an energy consultancy and delivery product to help our clients create their decarbonisation. This audit product is currently being tested throughout the school estate. This reflects Scottish Borders Council’s ambition to be at the forefront of the energy transition. 

We conducted a deep-dive audit focused on the operational carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) levels at a site in Earlston to identify carbon hotspots. Data was collected on energy usage of gas, electricity, waste, and water, along with social impacts such as transport and the landscape of the area. The next phase is to work closely with the client to develop a bespoke set of recommendations based on short, medium and long-term benefits. 

Creating a site-specific net zero strategy will support the school to reach the Scottish Government’s Net Zero target by 2045 and would play a key role in meeting the government’s ambition to decarbonise heat in buildings. 

But it’s not just about the bricks and mortar 

Young people today are valuable contributors to climate action, and we should encourage them to develop their knowledge and ignite their imaginations to become champions of sustainability. All generations, young and old, need to work together to create the change we need to protect our places, our people, and our planet. There has never been a more urgent time to change the way we do things as a society.  

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