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High impact scheme ‘greens’ Academy

Oil-fired boilers are being replaced at Somercotes Academy in a ground-breaking environmental scheme that will cut energy bills and reduce its carbon footprint.

L-R Rob Middleton, Facilities Officer at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust, James Brown, Year 10, Frances Green, Principal, Martin Brown, Chief Executive Officer at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust, Mia Stubbs, Year 10, and Mark Shadbolt, Facilities Manager at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust.

A heat pump, thought to be the first of its kind in northern Lincolnshire, will replace the 31-year-old system to help provide the heating and hot water in the £520,000 scheme.

Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust has secured the funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of its Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, delivered by Salix Finance.

The scheme aims to put the public sector at the forefront of decarbonising buildings in the UK.

The project has also installed 359 solar panels at the site and switched internal lights to LED.

The project is expected to save more than 3,000 tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide being emitted into the earth’s atmosphere over its 25-year lifespan.

Trust Chief Executive Officer Martin Brown said unpredictable and increasing costs of oil, together with the opportunity of funding, prompted the move.

Martin Brown, Chief Executive Officer at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust

“Somercotes is our only Academy where heating is provided by oil,” he said.

“We’re proud to be installing energy efficient, air source heat pump technology and showing our students we are reducing our environmental impact, something as young people they feel very strongly about.

“The scheme will also help with rising energy costs. Oil for the old boiler system costs around £20,000 annually, expected to rise to between £25,000 and £30,000 this winter.”

The air source heat pump is estimated to save almost £9,000 a year and the solar panels more than £12,000 through on-site generation.

“With all the improvements, we’re anticipating a cost saving of £21,000 annually, money which can be used to benefit students elsewhere in the Academy,” said Mr Brown.

Salix Finance delivers funding on behalf of Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and also offers support and expertise to the public sector to decarbonise, improve energy efficiency and lower bills.

The project was driven by Rob Middleton, Facilities Officer at LGAT. He and Facilities Manager Mark Shadbolt watched as the £200,000, 7.5-tonne heat pump, manufactured by Clade Engineering Systems Ltd in Leeds, was dropped into its position using a 75-tonne crane.

He said: “I saw the scheme through doing some research last October and we heard of our successful bid in February, so it’s been a long road to this point.

“It’s going to have a dramatic impact on our carbon emissions. The heat pump will reduce the carbon dioxide produced every year by 69%, preventing 98 tonnes going into the atmosphere annually. The solar panels will account for a further 26 tonnes and changing to LED lights 25 tonnes.”

Mr Shadbolt said: “Seeing it in situ is a big relief. Rob’s put in a huge amount of work to get it to this point and we’re just looking forward to progressing with the scheme.”

The switch from oil to the heat pump is scheduled to be completed in the February half term.

The solar panels across three rooftops have been installed and are already generating up to 50% of the school’s required energy. The heat pump will make up the shortfall.

Principal Frances Green said students had engaged with the project from the start.

L-R James Brown, Year 10, Frances Green, Principal, Martin Brown, Chief Executive Officer at Lincolnshire Gateway Academies Trust & Mia Stubbs, Year 10.

“They are excited about its positive impact on the planet,” she said. “They know the days of being reliant on fossil fuels are over and we have to explore alternative ways of keeping ourselves warm and providing hot water.

“I would like to thank the Lincolnshire Gateway Estates and Facilities Team for their work on this exciting environmental project.”

Students Mia and James were featured in a BBC Look North report on the project.

James Brown & Mia Stubbs, Year 10

“It’s better than relying on oil to heat the school and provide hot water,” said James. “It’s important we produce our own energy.”

Mia said: “The project reduces our carbon footprint and we are proud our school’s leading the way on the environment.”

Mia Stubbs, Year 10 with BBC Look North

Smart metering and a building energy management system will provide data to ensure the system is operating effectively.

Fouad Amuni, client support officer at Salix Finance, said: “Working on the Trust’s decarbonisation project has been really exciting and inspiring.

“They got rid of a 31-year-old fossil heating system and are replacing it with clean, energy efficient heat pumps.

“They’re also adding solar panels and Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS).

“They’re making a really positive environmental impact by saving over 3,000 of tonnes of carbon over the next 25 years and at the same time educating future generations about the importance of renewable and sustainable energy.”