Carbon Trust urges schools to invest in efficiency to beat rising energy prices

The Carbon Trust is writing to all schools and Local Education Authorities in England urging them to take action on energy efficiency to help reduce their £500m a year fuel bill.[1]  No cost and low cost energy efficiency measures can save a secondary school up to £21,500 a year,[2] which is equivalent to the salary cost of a newly qualified teacher.

A new service for schools is being launched by the Carbon Trust which is based on its experience of working with over 3,000 schools over the last decade. It provides tools, resources and onsite training on saving energy and carbon. It also includes access to the Carbon Trust's unique online behaviour change software, designed to help teachers actively engage students through practical learning experiences, support for lessons, carbon comparisons and quizzes.

Richard Rugg, Managing Director of Public Sector Advice at the Carbon Trust, said:

"Right now we know that schools are needlessly spending too much money on their energy bills. Taking action on this will not only free up budgets for educational spending, it will also help to combat climate change. This is why we are launching a service to help them. In fact if all the schools in England implemented our advice, we estimate that they could collectively achieve annual savings of £70 million on their energy bills.[3]

"In most cases significant savings can be achieved within weeks or months, with low and no cost measures. In particular making sure that lighting, heating and devices that consume electricity, such as computers, are used efficiently. Further savings can be made through investment in building fabric, upgrading lighting, and putting in new heating systems or renewables. These measures not only help cut overheads so that schools can focus on educational spending, they have the supplementary benefit of creating a more effective learning environment."

The Carbon Trust worked on pilot trials of this service with local authorities and over 250 schools in England last year, supporting them on introducing energy efficiency. This pilot included working with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in thirteen of its schools, both primary and secondary, to demonstrate the potential for energy and carbon savings. The carbon from Solihull's school estate accounts for over 70% of the emissions from all the council's assets. The council had been spending £2.5 million a year on energy for schools, and projected that this would rise by over £800,000 over the next five years if current trends in fuel prices are sustained.

Following a successful pilot, Solihull is planning on rolling out this service to all of its 74 schools over the next three years, delivering cost savings of almost £1.3 million in that period. Most impressively, 22% of the savings can be achieved with zero cost behaviour change initiatives, and the total cumulative revenue costs to achieve all savings are expected to only be £168,000. If all the carbon reduction opportunities identified by the Carbon Trust were implemented then the potential carbon saving per school would be 24%.

Councillor Ian Courts, Solihull Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said:

"The programme was timely and extremely helpful to Solihull in enabling us to develop a framework of support for our schools. Having a dedicated Carbon Trust advisor on hand to provide that professional input was invaluable to help take the project forwards and in the right direction to achieving our ambitious targets."

[1] Department for Education statistics: 

[2] Based on 25% energy savings for the average UK secondary school (£86,000 per year) and the minimum starting salary of a newly qualified teacher (£21,588). Source: Teacher Development Agency.

[3] Based on average annual savings of 14% that can be achieved in 3 months with low and no-cost measures.


For further information please contact the Carbon Trust press office on 020 7170 7050 or email

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent company with a mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. The Carbon Trust:

  • advises businesses, governments and the public sector on opportunities in a sustainable, low-carbon world;
  • measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services;
  • helps develop and deploy low-carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power

Notes for Editors

Carbon Trust support has helped schools to make average savings of 14% on energy spend in just three months, with future annual savings typically forecast to cut bills by a quarter, and some schools have saved as much as a third. The service can be provided individually for both primary and secondary schools, as well as to local authorities covering a number of schools. It can be used by itself or as part of a wider programme of energy reduction, helping overcome the barriers to cutting carbon and costs.

The London Borough of Croydon was another council taking part in last year's trial. Thomas More Catholic School, a secondary school in Croydon with 733 pupils aged 11-19 and has particular challenges with energy efficiency as it is a listed building built in 1843. Annual savings were made of £12,000 through using the Carbon Trust's service, and over half of these were just through just making adjustments to heating temperature and timings. Staff, students and governors were engaged through a democratic Eco School Team that meets regularly, and good news was shared with the whole school through assemblies.

Bovington First School in Wareham, Dorset took part in the pilot and managed to save 17% on its energy bills in the initial period. It helped to engage pupils by linking the work the school was doing to the curriculum, as well creating an Eco Code Song, Eco-Board, CO2 Bulletin, and taking part in WWF's Earth Hour. It has since been trialling Empower for Schools™ tool with its students.