Energy for Schools

Getting school pupils involved in energy management

Project duration: June 2018 to April 2020

Update 11 October 2020:  An independent evaluation of the Energy in Schools project is available to download here.

The Energy in Schools project has been extended to explore how battery technology can benefit schools.

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 will use 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 Samsung’s SmartThings platform to connect real time energy usage, pricing and carbon emissions data with humidity, heat, light and motion sensors and the 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 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 connecting micro:bits to the smart data about the building’s energy use, pupils will be able to play a direct role in adapting their school’s energy use as well as learning how to code using data from internet enabled ‘smart objects’ such as sensors, thermostats and switches.

Pupils, teachers and those in schools responsible for buying and managing energy have been helped to create their own energy apps using data from the technology network to create customised systems that enable them to understand and modify the buildings energy use as whole. For example, classrooms could program simple rules to change the colour of an LED light when carbon intensity of generation was high.

We began the project in April 2018 by doing an ethnography of a participating school to understand the informal processes and information flows which ultimately drive how energy is consumed (and to determine the “sweet spots” where information interventions are most effective). This will then feed into a series of design workshops with the end users to develop the functions and look of the platform.

Subsequent phases of the project will see the micro:bit platform refined and then rolled out on a national basis. The technology 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.

Creative commons image courtesy of Gareth Halfacree via Flickr.

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