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Cutting carbon in the classroom

Lisa Gingell explains why proactive energy management is just as important in the school environment as the office and highlights why interactive energy management dashboards are great for giving schools an energy boost and ideal for showing children how they can cut carbon
It's a well-known fact that behaviours learnt at a young age will stand you in good stead in your adult life and the same goes for energy management and carbon cutting.

Good habits are hard to quit. By showing young people about the importance of saving energy at schools, the hope is these routines are then followed through into homes and communities. Today, many schools are not only teaching children about the importance of sustainability and energy management by including it in the curriculum but also showing them. From recycling in the classroom to learning about the effects of the climate change, schools are tackling eco-initiatives head on.

By our very nature we are all visual beings and children are even more so than adults - by physically showing them how they are saving energy they can see in bright colours and easy to understand graphics what this means. It's also been proven by psychologist Ronald Brittle's study of eco-visualisation that real-time display of energy data increases conservation behaviours and that regular feedback can result in 10 per cent energy savings by people.

At t-mac we have worked with a number of schools across the UK to provide them with an energy saving and learning framework to enable teaching staff to embed these principles into the heart of school life. How we do this is via our energy management system and our custom built energy dashboards - visual energy saving displays that can be shown in realtime on laptops, ipads, tv screens or mobile phones to pupils.

We recently installed our Building energy Management System (BeMS) into a school's vast campus for real-time metering of a number of the building's HVAC equipment. t-mac was set to monitor and meter a number of the school's areas such as the swimming pool and leisure centre, a number of accommodation blocks, a student recreation centre and the kitchens.

We enabled the school to internally analyse and quantify its energy consumption and understand the amount that each building is costing in energy expense and carbon output.

The school was also keen for students and staff to get involved and carry out energy analysis of the findings but also to look at how energy can be saved and consumption reduced through behaviour.

The way in which we helped demonstrate the energy savings and energy costs was via a custom designed 'energy makeover' dashboard - which shows pupils how the school is saving energy and carbon. This highly visual interactive screen features educational graphics and calculations demonstrating energy savings from HVAC equipment plus it provides an interactive tool for pro-active maintenance and management equipment by site staff.

All energy dashboards can be single or multi-page, showing data from single or multiple sites, and can be interactive and/or touchscreen versions. Alternatively a dashboard can scroll through screens to view on a plasma screen. The dashboards are accessible online and can be linked from a corporate internet site or running in a reception on a PC with internet access. Suitable for showing the pupils daily what savings are being made - they can visually see how their efforts to cut the use of HVAC equipment is saving energy and cost for the school.

From our research we know that a one off approach to energy management won't reap returns but a long-term approach coupled with getting people - as well as software - on board can make significant reductions. It's all about changing the mind-set behind the everyday actions of pupils and staff and letting them see the benefits of energy savings.

t-mac Technologies is made up of dedicated experts in the field of electronics engineering and web application bringing its associated systems and products to life; providing the next generation of energy management solutions.

t-mac Technologies' t-mac BeMS device and energy software can reap savings of up to 30 per cent and offers a return on investment of 12 to 18 months. The company's products are used globally enabling clients to monitor and reduce their energy consumption, make savings and comply with Government legislation. Using wireless and web-based technology, the company provides intelligent systems for remote, Internet monitoring and control of assets such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration as well as consumables such as water, air, gas and electricity.

// The author is a director at t-mac Technologies //
2 April 2014

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