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Energy efficiency – Outdoor and Sustainability Education Specialists (OASES)

Outdoor and Sustainability Education Specialists (OASES) supports schools across County Durham with saving energy through the ECO2 Smart Schools Programme working on behalf of Durham County Council. Schools monitor their energy use using half-hourly data and their annual energy report identifies areas for saving energy. OASES works with senior leadership, premises staff and teachers, reminding them of the need to save energy across the school, the potential savings and the impact their school has on the environment.

Pupils also benefit from ECO2 Smart Schools. Eco-groups, school councils and classes receive engaging energy saving sessions as part of the programme. They learn where electricity comes from, about renewable and non-renewable energy, as well as how they can combat climate change.

Interactive assemblies run by either OASES or the school children themselves then spread the word to the rest of the school.

OASES and Durham County Council help schools to find opportunities for retrofit and capital investment in sustainable technologies such as solar arrays, LED lighting, renewable heat and insulation.

Through ECO2 Smart Schools, St Cuthbert’s Primary School in Seaham organised a Switch-Off Day. Staff and pupils worked together to switch off lights and devices across the school for a day, including computers, projectors and printers.

Firstly, OASES delivered an energy saving assembly. Staff and pupils learned about where their electricity comes from and imagined what life would be like without it. KS1 pupils transformed into energy superheroes. After decorating an energy superhero mask, the pupils learnt more about what uses electricity and how important it is to switch things off. They also made apple juice without electricity. Pupils used an apple press to create fresh apple juice. It was hard work, as the pupils had to turn the press themselves, but the pupils agreed it was the best apple juice they had ever tasted.

KS2 pupils explored different types of renewable energy, using a dynamic model wind turbine and solar panel kit to carry out an investigation. They also thought about how food can be cooked without using electricity. OASES helped the pupils toast marshmallows on a fire.

Huge electricity and financial savings were made on the Switch-Off Day!

ECO2 Smart Schools currently works with over 230 schools in County Durham. Since 2010, these schools have collectively saved nearly £7.5 million, resulting in almost 20,000 tonnes of CO2 being saved.

ECOSmart Schools started as a response to the local authority carbon management plan. The Plan identified that school buildings were responsible for 54% of the carbon emissions coming from the local authority estate.

Schools were therefore offered extra support from Durham County Council’s Energy Management Service Level Agreement (SLA). As well receiving billing advice and guidance, all schools on the SLA are offered in school support from OASES to reduce their energy use and increase their awareness and understanding of energy and climate related issues. This support is now being coordinated through the County Durham Climate Emergency Response Plan.

For more information visit: eco2smartschools.org.uk

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