13 March 2012

Diligent pupils at The Duston School have won a pioneering carbon trading project devised by Northamptonshire County Council and saved more than £12,000 in a year by reducing their energy use.

By taking simple steps to use energy more efficiently, such as turning down radiators, the students reduced energy consumption by 10.1 per cent, equivalent to 91 tonnes of CO2 and a cost saving of £12,600.

The county council’s energy and carbon management team launched the web-based carbon trading competition to help schools reduce their energy bills. Assisted by Northants Chamber, the project was piloted at six schools last year.

The scheme works by emulating the carbon trading system recently introduced into the business world, with a school’s energy allowance capped at 90 per cent of the previous year’s emissions and a website to buy and sell carbon allowances to cover each school’s emissions during the trading year.

Altogether, the six pilot schools saved 145 tonnes of CO2 and almost £20,000 off their combined energy bills.

County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Ben Smith, said: “Learning the importance of reducing our carbon footprint is an essential lesson at any age but ensuring that school pupils are made aware of the challenges we all face, especially in the current economic climate, is vital if the next generation is to carry on the good work that has already started.

“This is an imaginative way of getting school pupils to take real responsibility for their school’s energy usage and it will be interesting to see how much of an impact can be made by taking part in this project.”

As part of a larger bid by the Council earlier this year, the Schools Carbon Trading Project has secured funding through a European Regional Development Framework (ERDF) until April 2015.

Participation is now being extended to every secondary school in the county.

As an additional incentive to the energy cost savings, the school that tops the online league each year (based on emissions trading) will win a selection of prizes donated by sponsors and the business community. This year prizes are courtesy of Travis Perkins, BRE and Encraft.