I was chatting with the principal of my son’s primary school this morning. He was telling me that the school’s gas bill has gone from £3000 to £10,000 a month. This is in line with the Department of Education forecasting an increase of 13 million for school energy costs in Northern Ireland.
As we were chatting I was looking up at the huge roof of the school and thinking you could get a whole pile of solar panels up there. Schools also tend to have lots of land which would be perfect for geothermal energy or installing a wind turbine.
The school is currently getting some of its roofs repaired. During the work but they are taking the opportunity to add insulation to the roofs which should reduce its heating bills substantially.
The energy requirements of all our public buildings are enormous. Recent events have shown us how volatile fossil fuels are, we need to be future-proofing all our buildings to make them as energy-efficient as possible. This is not green wishful thinking. Already around 50% of the electricity generated in Northern Ireland comes from renewable sources. The technology works and insulation projects are very simple and cost-effective ways to reduce energy demand.
We should also change the building regulations that all new homes and buildings must be well insulated, have solar panels, heat pumps and other energy-efficient technology. No new house should be built that is less than an EPC rating of B.
The issue of course is money. Most money is spent on the day to day running of services, very little thought is given to the long term.
There must be some mechanism whereby the Assembly can ask the Treasury for money for environmental capital projects. Maybe you know of similar schemes that are happening in other countries? If so let us know in the comments.
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.