Challenging IMServ to save energy for a 120-year-old school


Green Flag accredited Raglan Primary School won a £5000 prize for participating in EDF Energy’s 2009 Team Green Britain initiative.

Raglan’s long standing record of environmental achievements has won it many awards. Its Green Flag status – accredited by Eco-Schools, the largest environmental schools programme in the world – confirms the school is committed to reaching a higher standard in their environmental activities and is on a continuous journey towards becoming a sustainable school. The school includes environmental initiatives and eco topics for every year group and is an active user of The Pod – EDF Energy’s interactive website for teachers providing free lesson plans, activities, assemblies, games and information that are perfect for 4-14 year olds, all with cross curricular links. Using The Pod helps the school maintain its Green Flag status.

One way Raglan has tried to reduce its energy use is through ‘power downs’. These are set days when staff and pupils try to get their electricity use as low as possible and see how they performed using an on-line electricity monitoring display.

EDF Energy working with IMServ was set some tough challenges by the school: to Save Energy, Reduce Costs and Be Greener in line with School Policy.

The Challenges

Heating and lighting account for the vast majority of energy used in schools like Raglan Primary. Typically with schools, the combination of old buildings and limited school maintenance budgets means that insulation levels are poor and equipment such as lights and boilers are old, inefficient, and lack automated centrally controlled settings. Also, improving control of equipment is often far more cost effective than replacing old equipment.

An in depth audit of Raglan’s premises and facilities revealed our assumptions to be largely true for this school. Although Raglan had invested in an electricity monitoring system which proved useful in communicating electricity use to staff and pupils during their power downs, control of electricity consuming equipment was at the point of use, e.g. the light switches in each classroom and hallway, air-conditioning and computers individually controlled. Additional sensors and switches would need to be installed to link these separate circuits to facilitate central control.

The boiler accounted for the vast majority of gas consumption at the school and a signification proportion of total energy use. The controls for the main boilers were not working effectively which meant the boilers had to be controlled manually. Inevitably this lead to situations where the boilers ran overnight and resulted in energy being wasted.

The audit also revealed their long serving caretaker was soon to retire. He had played an important part in managing the schools energy use – manually controlling the boiler and checking for lights left on unnecessarily.

The IMServ Solution

The analysis showed the £5000 fund would achieve the greatest return for Raglan School if spent on improving the control of the gas boiler by installing a mini-BMS. This would provide the following benefits:

  • Preventing unnecessary consumption out of core operating hours and thereby reducing waste heat (ensuring the main boilers are off when they should be)
  • Improving boiler efficiency by introducing optimum-start control, which optimises the start time of the heating system such that the correct temperatures are reached at the correct time of day.
  • Providing an online real time gas monitoring dashboard and data to complement the electricity monitoring system. This would make gas use visible for the first time and also support the school’s initiatives to promote good energy behaviours through their power down days.

All without requiring the new caretaker to spend his time fiddling over the gas boiler.