Engaging pupils, teachers and governors in the science, engineering and technology of carbon neutral schools

Lead Research Organisation: De Montfort University
Department Name: Institute of Energy and Sustainable Dev


The project will work with teachers, governors, pupils, building designers, researchers and policy makers in Leicester over two academic years to engage with them in the science, engineering and technology of carbon neutral schools. Leicester is the UK's first Environment City and has a long history of carrying out energy efficiency improvement work and installing renewable energy technologies. It is in the first wave of the national programme Building Schools for the Future which will refurbish all the city's 17 secondary schools in a 220 million programme. Leicester is also unique in that most of its schools have intelligent metering to read the electricity, gas and water consumption every half hour. The project will address the science, engineering and technology of energy efficiency and renewable energy in school design and operation through training courses, hands on activities, visits and a dialogue between pupils and both building energy experts and policy makers. It will focus on the schools that are being rebuilt in Leicester as part of the Building Schools for the Future initiative. There would be two main areas of engagement, firstly between the pupils and the energy experts from the project partners and secondly between pupils and policy makers from Leicester City Council and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.The pupils will experience practical energy related projects. These will include:discussions on thermal performance, ventilation, daylighting and appliance use in school buildings,visits to sustainable buildings , workshops with building energy experts, researchers and policy makers relating to their school building,multimedia presentation work and role play, building small scale renewable energy models and investigating the siting of wind turbines,computer simulation,analysing electricity gas, water and temperature data.This will stimulate teacher and pupil interest in future energy use and inspire them through hands on experience of sustainable energy projects. They will be able to explain the role of thermal insulation, daylighting, ventilation, electrical appliance use and renewable energy in buildings to both policy makers and the wider school community. The pupils will engage with young researchers, so hopefully being inspired to think about a career in science and engineering. The project will also analyse the post occupancy performance of the four low energy schools currently being built, so helping to determine whether predicted energy and water consumption reductions have been achieved. Finally the pupils will engage with the policy makers (the Leader of Leicester City Council and the other senior decision makers involved in the BSF process). This will then inform the design and operation of the new schools being built in Leicester and also inform the DCSF about the design and operation of new school buildings to maximise environmental sustainability.Evaluation is a key part of the project. On-line questionnaires will be completed by participants before, during and after the engagement. The results of these evaluations will be disseminated at BSF and other events that will take place over the next three years. It will help inform the national BSF programme development.


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Charnley F (2012) Engaging schools in the science of low-energy buildings. in Public understanding of science (Bristol, England)

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Fiona Charnley (Co-Author) (2010) Engaging School Communities in Building for a Sustainable Future in Proc CIB World Congress

Description The project worked with pupils, teachers, governors and building experts on the design and operation of new school buildings in Leicester. Leicester schools are being refurbished in the first wave of the national Building Schools for the Future initiative. The objectives of the project were to: stimulate pupils' interest in the role of science and engineering to achieve deep cuts in energy consumption in school buildings; inspire pupils to consider careers in engineering and the physical sciences through a dialogue with researchers working on EPSRC projects and building professionals over the design of their new school buildings; enable pupils to debate how research on low energy schools can inform the redevelopment of carbon neutral school buildings; engage pupils in active citizenship through a dialogue between pupils and decision makers about the design and operation of school buildings; continue the innovative public engagement work at the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development, through partnerships, and building further research capacity; inform Leicester City Council and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (now Department for Education) of the potential for engaging young people in the design and operation of school buildings. The project also: Provided training and support for teachers in teaching about low energy buildings with particular reference to the sustainable schools agenda and current research projects in this field. Provided training and support to school leaders in the energy related aspects of Education for Sustainable Development. Enabled pupils to analyse energy and water consumption data and identify the potential for renewable energy technologies in their new school buildings. Enabled pupils to summarise and present findings to the governing bodies, policy makers, elected members. Enabled pupils to fully engage with and enjoy the energy related aspects of the science curriculum. Evaluated the effectiveness of the project and disseminate the results, locally, nationally and internationally.
Exploitation Route In designing and operating new low energy buildings
Sectors Energy,Environment

URL http://www.iesd.dmu.ac.uk/~schools/
Description Used to help inform the design and operation of schools in Leicester. Led to knowledge transfer work with Leicester City Council on both secondary and primary schools Led to production of school specific user guides
Sector Education,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Knowledge Exchange Partnership
Amount £200,000 (GBP)
Organisation Leicester City Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2013 
End 04/2016