Matthew Neville

County Durham primary school becomes most sustainable in region thanks to £100k project

A primary school is set for a greener future after renewable energy works were put in place following a grant of more than £100k.

Until recently, Woodland Primary School in Teesdale relied on an oil-fired boiler for both heating and hot water. The school was identified by Durham County Council for the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) phase 2 funding, as the single boiler was towards the end of its useful life.

In April 2021, the council’s low carbon team secured grant funding under the PSDS to replace the oil-fired heating with a low carbon solution to reduce energy consumption and produce some renewable energy on-site.

Grant funding via the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and Salix Finance saw £113k provided from the PSDS towards the scheme’s total £122k cost. The remaining £9k was funded from the council’s Invest to Save budget.

The installation of solar panels results in some of the school’s power being generated on-site whilst the conversion of lights to LEDs significantly reduces energy consumption from the existing school building.

Woodland Primary School is now the lowest carbon emitting school in County Durham and showcases how the council can roll out carbon reduction projects. Carbon emissions of 22.1 tonnes per year have now been reduced to 4.9 and this figure will continue to reduce with time as the electricity grid is further decarbonised.

Woodland Primary School headteacher Clare Carr said: “This has been a very exciting development and has engaged the children with the topics of climate change, carbon reduction and their role and influence in the future of their school, County Durham and the wider world.

“We are very proud to have been part of this project and we look forward to sharing what we have learned and the impact of the changes on the wider community.”

Cllr Mark Wilkes, the council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, added: “The contractors have worked through the coronavirus pandemic, which has been challenging, while the enthusiastic team at the school has embraced the concept and supported our low carbon team.

“I was particularly impressed with the children at the school. They have learnt so much about energy and protecting the environment because of this project. This demonstrates what is possible within 12 months of funding being granted and showcases how similar schemes can be rolled out across County Durham.”

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