Energy for Schools

Getting school pupils involved in energy management

Project duration: June 2018 to April 2022

CSE worked with Samsung, Lancaster University and MyUtilityGenius to create an innovative energy management platform for schools – with pupils and teachers involved at every level. The Energy in Schools website uses a unique combination of smart metering and BBC’s micro:bit technology to give staff and pupils an in-depth view of how their school uses energy and where and how they can take action to use energy more wisely.  The platform is tailored to four different categories of school energy user: facilities managers, energy procurers, teachers and pupils.

Teachers and pupils can access free lesson plans on Energy & Climate Change, Internet of Things and Battery Storage, plus practical activities on energy monitoring and coding micro:bits as sensors. Lessons have been designed for primary and secondary school aged pupils (Years 6 and 7).

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. Micro:bits can be programmed to measure and record temperature, light, door/window opening, or to monitor an appliance’s electricity use.  Pupils learn in a fun, hands-on way about Science and Geography topics, solving real-world problems in their school environment.

In the image below, light and temperature data from a micro:bit (located on the school floor plan at the bottom) is displayed as a red lines graph on the graph.

Facilities managers, pupils, and teachers can use the energy monitoring webpages based on data from a smart meter to measure reductions in energy use, for example as part of a switch off campaign. For schools who haven’t yet got a smart meter (or two), other schools have made their energy data available for general use.

We have discovered that schools face many challenges with their energy bills. These include:

  • Lack of information in fuel bills about energy consumption that could help schools to manage their energy use.
  • Uncertainty with multiple energy meters about what building or energy service each meter is responsible for.
  • Staff having little time to digest energy information, to inform changes in school practices.
  • Difficulties getting everyone involved.

Schools can ask their energy supplier to fit a smart meter. They can register their interest in Energy in Schools at the foot of this webpage.

All lesson plans, tutorials and coding files are available now to download.

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

Creative commons image courtesy of Gareth Halfacree via Flickr.

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