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02 November 2011

Schools emissions rising
School carbon emissions are on the rise due to an increase in electricity consumption, according to new research.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Shinawatra University, Thailand, studied 25,000 Display Energy Certificates (DECs) from 2008-9, which show buildings annual energy performance.

Combined with data from Ofsted, they created a database covering about 40% of primary and secondary schools in England to explore the key factors affecting energy use.

Results showed that secondary schools produced 47% more CO2 than primary schools, and academies emissions were 116% higher compared with primary schools, taking account of the different pupil densities.

Researchers suggested this may be due to funding for academies coming directly from Government, meaning they tend to have more energy-intensive facilities and equipment.

Professor Koen Steemers, head of the department of architecture at the University of Cambridge and one of the authors of the new report, said: This research shows that design strategies to reduce heat loss have been moderately effective but have been offset by increasing electricity demands, for mechanical ventilation, lighting or equipment.

A combination of different reasons explains the rise in schools electricity consumption. One may be the increase in recent years in IT facilities and other technology to support teaching and learning.

Current good practice electrical consumption in schools in England is actually worse than typical practice in 1995.

The research suggests that there will need to be significant reductions in the electrical consumption of academy buildings if they are to form an increasing proportion of the UKs schools stock and still meet existing commitments to CO2 reductions.

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