Procuring a green future

How two of the north east’s largest MATs teamed up to create savings of nearly £6million through new LED lighting. Plus, our quick guide to sustainable procurement

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the threat of global warming, but when schools work together they can make a substantial difference to cutting carbon emissions. That’s the lesson from a joint initiative developed by two Catholic education trusts, which between them oversee a total of 58 schools.

The Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust (BCCET) currently comprises 21 primary and secondary schools across South Tyneside, Sunderland and the east of Durham, and will expand to 34 schools by mid 2022. The Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust (BWCET) includes more than 40 schools across Gateshead, Northumberland and County Durham. Both Trusts are within the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and share the same procurement manager, so it made sense for them to work in partnership on a large-scale energy efficiency programme.

A major part of this initiative has been the £1.85million joint investment in an LED lighting replacement programme, which will reduce the trusts’ combined carbon footprint by 1,100 tonnes every year. Working with WN1 Lighting Solutions, the trusts will also see savings of nearly £6million over the 20-year life span of the programme.

Brendan Tapping, the CEO at BCCET, says that the speed of efficiency improvements in lighting technology means there is huge potential for cost savings, even in relatively new schools. And with energy prices rising, the switch from inefficient lighting to LED will increase these savings even further. ‘These savings can be reinvested in our schools, whether for buildings or specific educational initiatives,’ he says. ‘What’s more, LED installations improve the quality of light in classrooms, making it easier for children to work and study.

‘Sustainability and protecting the planet is a big part of our ethos and we teach this to our children every day. It’s been good to work with another trust with similar values. Just imagine how much impact we could have if more funding were available for other carbon-cutting measures.’

Much of the funding for the programme has come from the England Salix Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme, with additional capital investment from the Trusts and an estimated payback period of six years. According to Nick Hurn OBE, CEO at BWCET, the amount of carbon both trusts will save each year equates to the electricity consumed by all households in Sunderland for almost seven years. ‘While teaching our children to think carefully about the impact their actions may have on the environment, it’s important we, as education trusts, proactively drive sustainable efforts too.

‘It’s been great to partner with Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, working to help improve energy efficiency across our schools. The amount of money it will save in the long term is astonishing. By acting now, we can lower costs which can be put back into our schools, to support our continued efforts in the provision of a high quality, inclusive and diverse education.’

More on better buying

Join FundEd to access our database featuring over £14m of grants for schools