The school is a large Victorian building in north London. It has excellent teachers and the pupils are from many of the communities that make up the rich diversity of London life. My children enjoy it and are getting a very good education. However, in winter the classrooms are often too cold. The windows are enormous and single glazed, the boilers are old and the radiators do not have thermostats so are either on or off. The facilities manager is (understandably, given the age of the equipment) unwilling for this setting to be changed very often, so if a classroom gets too warm the teacher simply opens a window. This is a waste of energy and money.
The head teacher and governors are well aware of this waste. Three years ago, we commissioned a report, which recommended:
- Double glazing and better draught-proofing.
- New and more efficient boilers and thermostats in each room.
- Solar panels.
- A live display board in the school hall to show how much energy is being generated and help teach the children about clean electricity.
We were encouraged by this, and the school is not in a conservation area so there are no planning obstacles to double glazing. However, UK state schools run on tight budgets and this school could not invest money in this, even though the fuel bill savings would have quickly paid back the investment. Therefore, we went to the local council (Islington) and asked for a grant. The officials were supportive, but the local politicians clearly felt that double glazing and new boilers were insufficiently interesting. They offered a grant for solar panels, which is welcome, but not the best first option.
Therefore, I decided to get the double glazing work started. Climate Answers has given the school £10,000. This will probably only be enough for one classroom. Three potential contractors will come to survey the school, together with the head teacher and facilities manager. Some of the windows need to be capable of being opened, which increases costs, but is obviously essential in summer (despite London’s poor air quality). Then, the double glazing will be installed during the summer holidays.
We are also taking forward the solar panels, since they would be valuable for education purposes as well as for reducing carbon emissions. And Islington has a new council leader who, on the day he was elected, told journalists that reducing Islington’s carbon footprint is one of his ambitions. So we have written to him asking for a meeting and, if and when he replies, we will ask for money for double glazing.
There will be updates on this website when there are developments on this and other Climate Answers projects.