By Nigel A-F
11th February, 2020
In last month’s ISBA bulletin we reminded readers aspiring to achieve zero-carbon status on their school estates that it is essential to complete any required conversions to estate heating systems before 31st March 2021, if it is to be done affordably, because that’s the date that the UK Government subsidy regime that supports conversions to renewable heat closes for new entrants. (The subsidy is known as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)).
In the past month, conversion momentum has picked up in the UK. One example of the extent of this is that some schools which are planning to get the bulk of the work done during the summer holiday have now pre-booked critical equipment, to ensure that it is available when they need it. This seems like a sensible precaution to take, as it would be a great pity if a school Governing Body committed to a conversion programme only to find that the required equipment was not available in the required timescale.
Another long-lead item causing concern for some schools is the requirement to get planning consent for the installation of the new system. Even though conversion to low/zero-carbon heat has clear environmental benefits, planning consent is still generally required. This will add a minimum of 8 weeks to any programme, and probably longer if the local planning authority has any queries about the detail of the programme.
The message remains that time is of the essence for conversions to low/zero-carbon heat systems, if they are to be achieved affordably: this applies equally to schools on mains gas, LPG or oil.
N.B. The Bursar’s Review issued on 4th February contained a short leaflet from ReEnergise outlining a zero-carbon strategy for schools and informing readers about the establishment of a new Zero-Carbon Schools division in the company. Please not that the webpage included in the leaflet should read www.zerocarbonschools.com rather than ‘.co.uk’.