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Young Energy People! spreads its wings

Young Energy People! logo

Young Energy People (YEP!) is a secondary school, student-led, energy saving project developed by Severn Wye Energy Agency. It started life as a European project match funded by Intelligent Energy Europe and Gloucestershire County Council (GCC).

This initial phase of the project was implemented in 48 secondary schools (6 in the UK) across 8 European regions. GCC were impressed with the outcomes of this initial project and agreed to fully fund the implementation of the project in a further 23 schools across the following two years.

Young Energy People! recruits and trains a group of students which become known as the School Energy Management Team (SEMT). The SEMT carry out a full energy survey of their school and produce a report detailing their findings and suggested recommendations, encompassing both behaviour change and technical measures. This report is then presented to the governors and senior management of the school and follow-up meetings are held to monitor and review the energy-saving targets that the SEMT set themselves. This is followed by a whole-school energy saving campaign to promote positive behaviour change among both students and staff.

Selected students then have an opportunity to survey and report on the energy use of a local business as part of their planned work experience. This allows energy-saving messages to be disseminated into the wider community whilst further developing student’s skills and experience in a local business context.

Results of the project have been impressive with average energy savings of 14.4% during the initial phase and 18.9% during the second phase of the project. In June 2011, Severn Wye Energy Agency were awarded an Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy for their work developing the project. You can view the project award video at www.ashden.org/winners/swea11.

Exciting times lie ahead for the project as it is now being rolled out in new areas using a ‘train the trainer’ approach enabling Severn Wye to pass their experience and expertise on to local authorities, community groups and other organisations, providing them with the materials and support required to establish their own pilot projects.

The first training sessions for local authority staff from Wiltshire and Devon have been completed with the two authorities sharing the training costs. As a result, Wiltshire’s Climate Change Officer for Schools, Emma Harrington is now working with students at Hardenhuish School in Chippenham with on-going support from SWEA staff.

Emma said: “Wiltshire Council wants to support schools in reducing their energy bills and carbon emissions. YEP! sounded like a great opportunity to do this effectively while helping schools meet their educational agendas. We’re eager to get started with our pilot project and create meaningful results.”

Staff at Llanidloes Energy solutions are following a similar package of support (this time making use of Skype alongside in-person sessions) enabling them to implement the project in their local secondary school, Llanidloes High.

The project would work with any type of school or group of schools that have fuel bills large
enough. There is a base cost for the technical analysis for each school, which is negotiated. It is likely that clusters (either schools geographically close or sharing a strong environmental ethos even if they are not geographically close) would be more cost efficient, although it may be cost effective for really large secondary schools to run a project by themselves.

To find out more about the possibility of implementing the YEP! project in your area please contact Mike Brain, Head of Business Services at Severn Wye Energy Agency at mike@swea.co.uk or on 01452 835074.