New school retrofit model will revolutionise the path to net zero

EQUANS, the new name for ENGIE’s services led activities, has today launched a school retrofit model that promises to support the Government’s 2050 net zero carbon ambitions

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EQUANS, the new name for ENGIE’s services led activities, has today launched a school retrofit model that promises to support the Government’s 2050 net zero carbon ambitions through a two-pronged approach: decarbonsing the buildings; and encouraging the teachers and children who use them to get involved in the net zero agenda.

There are 32,000 schools across the UK and just a small number can boast net zero carbon credentials. EQUANS believes that schools sit at the very heart of communities, presenting a valuable opportunity to influence positive behaviours and strengthen support for the net zero transition.

School Zero is an innovative, holistic and flexible model, in which EQUANS collects and analyses energy and carbon data, surveys buildings, benchmarks current emissions and then plans impactful decarbonisation measures to achieve net zero carbon in operation. This can be achieved quickly through a comprehensive range of measures, such as improving heating system controls, swapping gas boilers, installing thermal efficient windows and doors, providing EV charge points, installing smart building sensors and also enhancing school grounds with tree planting.

EQUANS has also invested in high quality curriculum materials and built a portal of useful information for teachers. It has developed a range of bespoke ‘free to all’ materials for Key Stage 1 and 2 including ‘TED’ style talks for teachers to support and grow their understanding of climate change and help them better engage pupils and local communities on the agenda. This aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and it is hoped this will help pupils understand the part they can play in creating a cleaner, greener, more sustainable world.

Mark Dolling, Education Director for EQUANS UK & Ireland, explains: “The UK has bold ambitions for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and every industry, sector and organisation has to play its part.  EQUANS has combined expertise in energy, retrofit and construction and we have worked with hundreds of schools across the country to deliver new build, refurbishment and facilities management – so we are uniquely placed to bring this product to market.

“Schools sit at the heart of every community and we feel that they have a really important part to play in place-wide transition to net zero carbon. We want to put them at the centre of this work, decarbonising their own buildings but also postively influencing the behaviours and actions of families and local communities. Young people can be overwhelmed by climate change, so we wanted to create an approach that was postive, pro-active and engaging, creating ‘School Zero Heroes’ and confidence that they can and will make a tangible difference.”

Through early research and school engagement, EQUANS has already been appointed by several organisations that are actively looking to decarbonise their school estates, all of whom will be encouraged to engage with the School Zero portal and upload their own content to be shared with other schools.

EQUANS is also proactively engaging senior Government officials to promote greater prominence of climate, sustainability and net zero carbon within the National Curriculum.

Colin Macpherson, Divisional CEO for EQUANS UK & Ireland said: “We don’t just want to put up some solar panels and walk away.  We are fully invested in this product and the decision to offer the teaching material for free is testament to this.

“If net zero carbon is the future then we need to engage and inspire the minds of the future and we are absolutely committed to encouraging children to provide ideas and innovate so we can grow a community that is passionate about sustainability for schools.”

Sarah Bennett, Chief Executive, Inspiring Futures Through Learning, said: “Making building improvements into genuine learning opportunities for pupils is inspired thinking by EQUANS and our children can see first-hand how energy consumption can be reduced. Our children are able to discuss and role model the principles behind energy reduction with each other in school and at home – a real and positive illustration of schools and their communities leading by example.”

For more information about School Zero, visit here.  For further information on EQUANS, visit here.