Extension of the Energy in Schools project

12 February 2021

CSE is working with Lancaster University under the leadership of Samsung to create an innovative energy management platform for schools – with pupils and teachers involved at every level. The platform uses a unique combination of state of the art smart technology to give an in-depth view of how schools use energy and where and how they can take action to use energy more efficiently.

The platform uses real time energy usage, pricing and carbon emissions data with BBC’s micro:bit technology to create an energy management system tailored to four different categories of energy user: facilities managers, energy procurers, teachers and pupils.  

The BBC micro:bit has programmable buttons, is Bluetooth enabled, has a built-in thermostat, accelerometer and compass, and can connect to other devices and sensors.

The BBC micro:bit is a small programmable computer that was launched in 2016 and is widely used in schools around the world. It aims to encourage children to get started on easy and accessible computing projects. By using micro:bits alongside the smart data about the building’s energy use, pupils will be able to play a direct role in adapting their school’s energy consumption.

For example, pupils could program micro:bits with simple rules to change the colour of LED lighting strips depending on the carbon intensity of electricity generation, or whether their school’s energy consumption was high or low. The current extension of the project is seeking to install 3 phase smart meters in ten schools and battery storage in one school to learn about the benefits to schools of having these technologies. We will also obtain feedback on the installation processes of metering equipment and battery storage improve this in future. New lesson plans will be developed on batteries and energy-related topics to enhance cross-curricular uptake of the learning resources and facilitate greater modes of engagement.

Overall, Energy in Schools can help school building users develop practical energy know-how and problem solving skills in a real-world setting, within the wider context of taking climate action.

This phase of the project will see use of micro:bits and the Energy in Schoolsplatform refined before it is made freely available to schools on a national basis. The platform should help schools to not only reduce their energy use, but shift it to off peak time when energy may be cheaper or to times when renewable energy generation is high.

The project is funded by Department of Business Energy & Industrial Strategy’s Non-Domestic Smart Energy Management Innovation Competition.

An independent evaluation of Phases 2 and 3 of the Energy in Schools project is available to download here.

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