King James I Academy

King James I Academy

An energy prices have increased over the past year, conservation has been on the minds of many school managers. Few have done as systematic and strategically targeted a job as King James I Academy in Bishop Auckland. Saving energy is especially challenging for large secondary schools like King James but the school managers have taken a systematic and strategic approach to reducing their usage. The 140 staff and nearly 1000 pupils at the school occupy buildings with a combined footprint of over 9000 m2. Two of the larger buildings are listed, built in 1910, with lovely but energy-inefficient features such as high ceilings, single-pane leaded windows and uninsulated stone walls. The school is open for extended hours as they host community and sporting events in the evenings, weekends and over holidays. Due to the size, age and the intensity of use, this school has struggled with a considerable energy consumption profile and the resulting costs and carbon footprint.

Enter the King James finance officer and site team. Starting early in 2022, with support from OASES, the Academy analysed school energy consumption and infrastructure to identify the most cost-effective changes to bring down energy consumption. An obvious starting place was school lighting, then provided by a diversity of inefficient halogen and fluorescent fixtures. With vintage lighting in so many classrooms, corridors, offices and common areas, the task was daunting, so the King James site team focused on replacing the most inefficient lighting in the most heavily used areas of the school. The first target was the main Sports Hall, used all day and into the evening hours when energy prices rise. Replacing these halogen fixtures with LEDs in September 2022 paid immediate benefits. Next were the other large, common areas, the Dining Hall and Dance/Drama Studio, followed by the corridor lights in the main building. The site team have now begun changing classroom lights, reducing the school’s energy consumption with each new room retrofitted, saving thousands of pounds in energy costs, while providing a higher quality of light for pupils and staff.

Lighting Retrofit

For years, school management had been aware that the most inefficient and costly lighting at King James were the floodlights used to illuminate the 3-G Sports Pitch. These 14 halogen lights, each with a running wattage of roughly 2000W, are used almost daily in the late afternoon and evening hours (including during the 4:30-7:00pm period of highest cost per kWh). Their impact on school electricity consumption is readily visible in daily use graphs on the Durham County Council’s energy management portal. However, replacing these fixtures with LED’s was impossibly expensive until the DfE released the December 2022 capital funding for school energy efficiency improvements. The Academy wasted no time. The floodlights were retrofitted over the February half-term holiday, reducing consumption from this one source by 63%. The difference in daily consumption patterns can be clearly seen in the graphs below. There is still much work to do at King James I Academy. Whilst LED retrofitting continues, the site team is pursuing multiple strategies to address energy waste in the listed buildings. They have replaced boilers, reprogrammed heating control settings, installed secondary window glazing film and doorway draft excluders, and upgraded to more energy efficient electric heaters in some spaces. School energy costs are still high. But the King James I Academy team have faced what could have appeared to be an overwhelming obstacle – reducing consumption in a large, inefficient, and intensively used school – and are succeeding through a program of smart, targeted interventions. Their experience may point to a path forward for other schools facing similar challenges and constraints.

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