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Green upgrades for Somerset primary school

Wookey Primary School near Wells in Somerset is receiving a decarbonisation makeover in order to become more energy efficient and environmentally friendly thanks to a grant from Somerset County Council.

The news comes as the government announces a £500million investment to help state schools and colleges with energy efficiency upgrades, helping to manage energy consumption and save on bills.

At the Victorian-era school, once attended by novelist H.G. Wells, an old oil-fired boiler is being replaced with a modern, air source heat pump, removing the use of fossil fuel heating at the site. Together with work to improve the energy efficiency of the building, this will achieve an estimated saving of 13.2 tons of CO2 per year for the lifetime of the installation. Maintenance works, including roof repairs and replacement, are also being undertaken, with all works expected to be complete by Easter 2023.

Andrew Marsh, Headteacher of Wookey Primary School said:

“Our children are very environmentally aware and we have shared with them the reason behind the work that is being done. They are very excited about being part of this initiative.”

Councillor Tessa Munt, Lead Member for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council, added:

“I’m very pleased that the children and staff at Wookey Primary School will benefit from these improvements to the school. Reducing the school’s carbon footprint shows the younger generation we really care about the environment and climate change.”

The school is the latest in a line of Somerset buildings to receive environmentally-friendly upgrades. The type of work carried out varies from building to building, but includes features such as cavity wall insulation, new windows and ventilation improvements.

Councillor Sarah Dyke, Somerset County Council Executive Lead Member for Climate Change, said:

“We are determined to help the county achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. The decarbonisation work on a whole range of council-owned buildings has the dual benefits of reducing energy bills while also reducing emissions, helping Somerset to be prepared for, and resilient to, the impacts of Climate Change.”

Having successfully bid for £4.1 million from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) and committing a further £5.6 million into the initiative itself, Somerset County Council has now completed works on several of its buildings prior to Wookey Primary, including libraries, a community hub and, imminently, its Block B office building at County Hall in Taunton. 

To date, twenty retro-fit decarbonisation projects have either been completed or are underway, with over one hundred energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation studies carried out to develop plans for other sites.  The County Council is also building two new carbon-zero school buildings to exemplar Passivehaus standards.