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New £10 million initiative to decarbonise schools – lowering emissions and inspiring students  

A new £10 million partnership between Green Future Investments Ltd (GFIL) and Let’s Go Zero, the campaign for all schools to be zero carbon by 2030, is set to boost climate action in schools across England.  

The collaboration will bring expert advice to thousands of individual schools, colleges, and nurseries via 30 climate advisors in nine regions of England, while also unlocking finance at scale from the public and private sectors. The regional climate advisors will provide on-the-ground guidance to help schools fast track decarbonisation changes such as moving towards more energy-efficient buildings and on-site energy generation, improved green spaces, or reduced waste – all interventions that will reduce emissions and inspire students. 

Let’s Go Zero campaign, which is spearheaded by climate solutions charity Ashden together with a range of other environmental groups working with schools, launched in late 2020. The campaign is now backed by more than 2,250 schools reaching more than one million students and 170,000 staff – numbers that are expected to rapidly increase with this new partnership. Let’s Go Zero helps schools work together to lower their carbon emissions, sharing practical advice and linking them with opportunities for funding and other support. Let’s Go Zero also works with government to secure policies and investment needed for school decarbonisation. 

 Photo: King’s Academy Ringmer Secondary School in East Sussex were one of the early joiners to Let’s Go Zero and have 70kw of panels on their roofs. The expanded Let’s Go Zero campaign will share experiences from schools with more decarbonisation experience to those starting out – whether it’s renewable energy systems, waste management, or support on nature-based education, transport or procurement. Credit: Kings Academy Ringmer, East Sussex 

GFIL, a private company founded in 2021, provides funding to enable and accelerate climate positive innovation targeting net negative and net zero solutions. GFIL seeks opportunities to partner with organisations who share their values and ambitions for a cleaner, greener future. 

Alex Green, Head of Let’s Go Zero comments: “So many schools tell us they are eager to decarbonise, but lack the support and investment to do so. This project can spark action in schools across the country – as well as creating impact at a national level. We’re really pleased to be working with Green Future Investments on this ambitious, inspiring initiative.” 

Initiative will deliver advisors, a scaling fund and finance innovation 

The collaboration, launching this autumn, will have three elements – including Let’s Go Zero climate action advisors giving school decision makers unbiased guidance to support climate action. This will help school leaders understand impact and progress from quick wins to more intensive actions – linking to the latest Department for Education Climate Action Plan guidance and reporting requirements. 

A second strand will be a long-term collaboration of experts to develop innovative finance solutions for school decarbonisation – bringing together key players in public and private finance to support increased retrofit funding opportunities.  

The final element is the Zero Carbon Fund, supporting and scaling existing programmes and organisations working with schools to create even more impact and legacy.  

Children in high vis jackets standing next to a heat pump

 Photo: Dalmain Primary School, a Let’s Go Zero School – students celebrate switching off their old gas boiler and turning on a new ground source heat pump. The experiences and learning from schools that have already been able to take climate actions will be shared with other schools through the expanded Let’s Go Zero campaign. Credit: Dalmain School  

GFIL’s decision to support Let’s Go Zero originated from an ambition of Brian Meredith, an entrepreneur, business leader and climate activist and grew from partnering with a single local independent school to upgrade their IT system. The engagement with the school subsequently sparked a desire to challenge the effectiveness of their inefficient, costly and unsustainable heating infrastructure. 

GFIL began pilot work with Let’s Go Zero, exploring how to achieve impact on a national scale and were impressed by the drive, commitment and impact Ashden and the team can have.  

“A game changer for school infrastructure” 

Green Future Investments Director Andy Rounding says: “Learning about what Ashden has been doing towards the climate agenda for the last few years, particularly with their Let’s Go Zero Campaign, has been inspiring. We at Green Future Investments share a similar passion for decarbonising school infrastructure. Addressing this particular cause is important to us as it impacts the young people directly whilst also encouraging them to think about the future of the planet. 

“Since partnering with Let’s Go Zero and commissioning a detailed study to understand where we can be most impactful, we are now forming a powerful team, with drive, energy and commitment that will be a game changer for the UK’s school infrastructure driving towards Net Zero.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be working with the team at Let’s Go Zero and to start making a difference.” 

Fellow Director Sadie Meredith comments: “We are driven to challenge, unlock and enable creative solutions to the climate crisis. We pride ourselves on developing collaborative, robust and highly effective working relationships with our chosen partners to build resilience and deliver maximum impact through our projects. 

“We are delighted to be partnering with the Let’s Go Zero campaign and look forward to the exciting years ahead and the decarbonisation of schools across the country.” 

Photo: Students at Thornhill J&I Primary School from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire stand in their ‘EcoZone’ info area. Inspiring children to take climate action and feel positive about their futures will be central to the Let’s Go Zero school support. Credit: Thornhill School 

 

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