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Berkhamsted School

Teaching the teachers how to save energy

Berkhamsted School is an independent school located in the commuter town of Berkhamsted in West Hertfordshire. The school has outstanding records of academic excellence from pre-prep through to senior level. Well-qualified and highly experienced teachers offer a broad and balanced curriculum, backed by supportive discipline and pastoral care. The school boasts impressive specialist accommodation and facilities and offers day, weekly and full boarding places. It is both single-sex and co-educational.

In 2008 Berkhamsted School invited renewable energy consultancy Onsite Renewables Ltd to assess the school’s energy use and suggest ways to optimise and improve this going forward by identification of all forms of renewable energy technology feasible at their site. The introduction of technology to decrease the school’s carbon footprint and offer a renewable supply of green energy and sustainability of supply is of vital importance to the school from both an ecological and financial viewpoint.

Possibilities for multiple kinds of renewable energy technology use were identified at site. In the first instance the school assessed the suitability of implementing PowerPerfector Voltage Optimisation Technology, which could be funded by an interest free loan from the Carbon Trust. The main feature of the technology is its ability to minimise fluctuations in the power supply across a whole site, thus reducing overall kWh consumption by approximately 9%. The school has recently completed the second stage in its implementation and is awaiting results on current power supply readings before proceeding to the third and final stage.

The school is also investing photovoltaic (PV) technology and is reviewing changes in government policy to feed-in tariffs to the national grid, which will make the paybacks for investing in such resources more attractive.

A 6kW wind turbine is also a possibility, but this option is not currently being pursued.

Independent and Informed


Rob Grant, Estates Manager at Berkhamsted School recognises the obvious advantages of using a consultancy like Onsite Renewables and recommends them to other businesses that don’t employ specialist energy managers.

“It was Onsite Renewables absolute independence that led us to select them as our partner. Most other companies were limited to a particular field or to a specific technology. Onsite Renewables have access to all of the latest technologies and will independently assess which ones will work for you. Also, technology is constantly evolving and you want to make sure that you get the latest product with a decent shelf-life so you do not have to repeat the process in a few years time, costing you more time and money”.


Onsite Renewables can investigate, analyse and highlight the relative advantages and disadvantages of each technology and assist the client through the process of selecting which technologies to proceed with, including project management, supplier selection, installation and ongoing maintenance. If the investment in renewable energy is one that a company cannot yet consider for financial reasons, then Onsite Renewables can also offer more instant cost saving solutions, such as conversion of lighting schemes to low energy technology. Considerable success has also been achieved in workplace training in energy awareness. Onsite Renewables “Green Man” aims to reduce a clients energy bills by a minimum of 5% by embedding in their staff a culture of “carbon reduction as a way of life”.

Balancing the books


Schools and charitable organisations are particularly targeted to be eligible for the receipt of grants or interest free loans to enable them to invest in microgeneration technologies. Schools in particular are eligible for grants up to 100%. The process of identifying which grants are available, suitable and most achievable presents a hurdle for many, so Onsite Renewables has a specialist team that stay up to date on all aspects of this area and can help those eligible make the most of what’s on offer.

As well as grant availability, the actual paybacks for selling renewable energy back to the grid are set to undergo a massive restructure and improvement this year. Such a change will act as a great incentive to businesses for which previously the payback periods for implementing renewable technology seemed financially unattractive. Late last year the Government’s new Energy Act entered the statute books having received Royal Assent. The Act will introduce, for the first time in the UK, a nationwide feed-in tariff which will guarantee prices for small scale generators of renewable electricity. Under such a system utility companies will be obligated to buy renewable electricity at above market rates. For example, if the retail price of electricity is 10p/kWh then companies will have to pay something in the region of 30-50p/kWh.

Don’t be late!


The Government has issued a warning to charities and public sector organisations such as schools and hospitals that "time is running out" and they have only a few months left to access grants worth £35m. The funding has been made available to support the installation of renewable energy equipment such as solar panels and wind turbines.

The grants are available from the Government's Low Carbon Building Programme Phase 2, which offers charities, public sector bodies and homeowners the chance to apply for grants that help towards the cost of small-scale energy-generating equipment.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said there is an extra £35m in grants waiting to be dished out to successful applicants. "That is why we are telling public sector bodies and charities to come and get the money," she added.

Sustainable Development and Energy Innovation Minister, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said:

"Encouraging people and communities to generate their own green energy can help in the fight against climate change. The Low Carbon Buildings Programme provides money towards the upfront costs of installing equipment like solar panels, wind turbines or biomass boilers and it has the potential to help hundreds more homes and public sector buildings. "I am particularly pleased that 367 schools have benefitted from Low Carbon Buildings Programme funds. Not only do schools have the opportunity to cut fuel bills by generating their own energy, but pupils can learn about climate change."



Schools and charities that currently do not benefit from renewable energy technology should be looking NOW to find out what is available to them, both in terms of technology and funding whilst the climate for assistance is so heavily weighted in their favour.

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