Monday, 15 October 2012

Some UK Schools Still Have ‘F’ and ‘G’ EPC Certificate Ratings

Some UK schools still have Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) grades of ‘F’ and ‘G’ even though the April 2018 deadline for buildings to be legal is set at an energy certificate rating of ‘E’ or above.
A look through a few public display certificates for schools across a variety of regions in the UK, has revealed that many are in dire need of energy efficiency improvements. The fact that most of these schools are still using oil burners to heat their property and suffer from bad insulation, is arguably the key as to why they have such poor grades, even down to an appalling ‘G’, the lowest grade possible.

In relation to heat waste, insulation is a key feature that must be upgraded to appropriate standards before anything else is considered. The amount of money and heat lost through bad insulation, especially in such a large building can equate to thousands of pounds wasted each year.

Considering money is scarce in the education system surely investment in loft and wall insulation would be an economically viable proposition both to lower the schools carbon emissions and save much needed money, that can be put back into where it counts i.e. education.

From the point of view of heat source, replacing the old oil powered boiler with an alternative heat source such as a biomass boiler, for example, would be an extremely economic, energy efficient and viable option. Oil has risen in price by 160% in the past five years i.e. five years ago oil was 25p per litre – today it is approaching 65p.

A wood-fuelled boiler can offer a very simple and cost-effective means to heat buildings whilst realising significantly large savings in carbon emissions. Replacing a fossil fuel burner with wood fuel will typically reduce the overall carbon emissions by over 90%, with the assumption that the wood supply is managed sustainably. There will also be an approximate reduction of around 40% in energy bills from day one of making the change, on top of the huge savings to the environment in emissions.

The heating of public buildings represents a significant opportunity for savings in carbon emissions. Wood fired heating such as the above can be used widely for public buildings with heating requirements of 30kW and above, as well as on a domestic scale. Currently Sheffield City council can proudly boast having the largest district heating scheme for public buildings in the country and they are looking closely at biomass, amongst other renewable heat sources, to further lower their emissions and save on public expenditure.

There are even companies out there at the moment that will supply, install, repair and maintain a wood pellet biomass boiler free of charge, usually taking their cut via the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI) and passing all the cost and energy saving benefits to the customer.

So there is no excuse for public buildings, especially schools to be having such terribly low EPC ratings. As of April 2018, it will be illegal to sell or rent any building that has an EPC certificate rating of ‘F’ or below so surely public buildings must follow suit along with the domestic and commercial sector.

Wales is home to the UK’s first completely energy efficient school, fully powered and heated by renewable energy sources and fitted with energy efficient modifications, having achieved an A++ EPC rating, so it just goes to show how unacceptable it is that a school in the UK should not achieve at least a ‘D’ rating on its EPC report card.

Appropriate insulation and the use of wood-pellet burners can all be initially installed for practically free, so it’s time the government re-educated their heads of school about the cost-saving and energy saving benefits of becoming energy efficient. On a final note, would it not be good to set an example to the children in the schools about being energy efficient and protecting their environment, by way of at least allowing them to learn in a low carbon, low waste, cost-effective environment?

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