Green Energy Project at Impington Village College

ivc17:40 Thursday 27th March 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: Impington Village College has been given planning permission to start work on a million pound green energy project. It will include putting in three biomass boilers, that are calculated to reduce the school’s carbon footprint by 50%. The contract with the construction group Skanska is one of the largest entered into by any school in the UK. Fran Difranco is Director of Finance and Resources at Impington, and he joins me now. Hello Fran.
FRAN DIFRANCO: Good evening Chris.
CHRIS MANN: So, quite a big project. What’s led you to this?

FRAN DIFRANCO: Yes it is a big project. If I turn the clock back a couple of years or so, you know school’s like to be top of league tables, and we found ourself at the top of a league table which indicated that we were probably one of the heaviest energy users in Cambridgeshire, and possibly beyond, I’m not sure. But certainly that prompted us to start to look at becoming less brown and more green. And we looked at various individual parts of projects to do that, parts of projects like photo-voltaic panels or some individual parts, but none of them really were having an awful lot of impact. So we were lucky enough to be introduced by one of our governors to a company called Skanska, as you know, and we’ve been working with Skanska on an energy performance contract for the last couple of years now. And that led to as you say the introduction of three biomass boilers, but also a number of other interventions, for instance controls, metering and monitoring.
CHRIS MANN: Your promise is it’s going to reduce the carbon footprint by 50%. That;’s quite staggering, isn’t it?
FRAN DIFRANCO: It is. Yes. And as I say there’s a number of interventions other than just the biomass boilers, although they’re the most critical part. For instance we’re looking at a behavioural change programme with some of our students, and some of the staff for that matter, through a company called Global Action Plan, or a part of that project. And that will be with the intention of trying to encourage better use of energy, both here and outside of the school. And that along with the biomass boilers, photo-voltaic panels, we’re looking at our lighting systems and so on, should bring our carbon footprint down by as you say by nearly 50%. So yes.
CHRIS MANN: What might that mean for the school?
FRAN DIFRANCO: Well the first probably seven years, maybe a tad longer, will consist of the school handing over any savings it makes in terms of utility bills and claiming back heat incentive tariffs and feed-in tariffs, to effectively cover the capital expenditure and costs of implementing all of that equipment. And then after that seven years, that all becomes ours, and we save all of those income streams ourselves. And over the course of the next fifteen years after that, we believe that could save us, or bring into the school, nearly £3 million.
CHRIS MANN: Goodness me. And I guess with things as tight as they are these days, every penny counts. What might you use it for then?
FRAN DIFRANCO: Well certainly we’ll be looking to make some significant investments into the college, and we’re in desperate need of some capital refurbishments, particularly our sixth form centre, which has unfortunately suffered, as many Cambridgeshire schools have, with a lack of investment. So we’ll be looking to invest back some of that funding into some of the capital infrastructure in the school.
CHRIS MANN: I suppose it’s quite a learning process for the kids. Have they been involved in this?
FRAN DIFRANCO: So far their involvement has been quite small. But certainly we’ll be looking to involve them fully over the next term and into the post-Autumn and Summer term, when the equipment is actually here, because the biomass boilers for instance will have a vision panel, so they’ll be able to see what’s actually going on. Then we’re going to have screens around the college which will show the output in terms of energy, and the savings that are coming from that. So certainly we’ll be looking to involve that side of the curriculum, learning and so on, for the students, pretty much from now on in.
CHRIS MANN: Fran, thank you so much for joining us. Fran Difranco there, Director of Finance and Resources at Impington Village College.