Case Study: Soham Village College

Summary of Benefits
  • £481,700 capital investment
  • 629,447 kWh energy saving per annum
  • 31,531 energy savings & revenues
  • 41,423 kWh of renewable energy generated per annum
  • 179 tonnes CO2 saving per annum

Soham Village College

In partnership with Bouygues Energies & Services Ltd, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Mobilising Local Energy Investment Unit delivered an energy efficiency retrofit project at Soham Village College, completing in June 2018. The project installed Solar PV, LED lighting, replacement boilers, heating system insulation and automation of heating controls across the site, enabling smart operation of the heating system. These measures save the school more than £31,000 on their annual energy bill and 179 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum.


Soham Village College, a member of the Staploe Education Trust, is a large secondary academy set in a 40 acre site. Prior to the project the school consumed 2.4 million kWh of energy per annum at an annual energy cost in excess of £100,000. Much of the energy infrastructure on site was old and either inefficient or reaching the end of its lifecycle.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s schools energy efficiency programme, delivered under the Re:fit National Energy Performance Contract Framework, offers schools the opportunity to reduce their energy bills, replace end of life plant and save carbon emissions without the need to find an upfront capital investment from constrained school budgets.

The Council invested £481,700 in upgrading the energy infrastructure at Soham Village College installing solar PV, LED lighting, replacing boilers that were at the end of their lives, and installing state of the art energy management systems across the site to enable optimised operation of heating. The school lease the equipment from the Council, with lease costs being paid for from the savings in their energy bill. The lease terms give the school the option to buy the equipment at the end of the 15 year lease term at a pre-agreed residual value.

The replacement boilers, heat emitter controls and energy management system reduce the site’s natural gas consumption by 451,869 kWh, saving more than £11,000, per annum. The solar PV installation generates 41,423 kWh of electricity with around 70% of this being consumed on-site and the surplus being exported to the grid. The LED lighting and solar PV reduce the school’s electricity consumption by 177,578 kWh per annum, saving nearly £18,000.

Summary of Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs)

Solar PV arrays: 50 kW solar PV was installed in two separate arrays. The installation uses polycrystalline solar modules with a power optimiser system to maintain optimal performance, even if part of the system is shaded. Around 70% of the electricity generated will be used on-site, saving nearly £3,000 per annum in electricity costs, with the surplus exported to the electricity grid. The installation will also generate £2,400 of revenue for the school from Feed in Tariff and Export tariff payments and save nearly 16 tonnes of carbon per annum.

Condensing boilers & calorifiers: The selected solution replaced seven old, inefficient boilers with six new high-efficiency condensing boilers. Two calorifiers were replaced with new units and emitter controls were fitted to electric hot water heaters. This will contribute 22 tonnes of carbon and £3,000 to the overall savings.

LED Lighting upgrade: A total of 1,114 luminaires using fluorescent, tungsten halogen and HID (metal halide or sodium) were replaced with LED luminaires. This will yield nearly £15,000 a year electricity savings and provide around 80 tonnes of carbon savings per annum, as well as significantly reducing ongoing maintenance costs.

Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning system insulation: Installation of tailor made insulation jackets and pipework lagging across 10 boilerhouses will save the college around £1,600 annually. This translates into a further 7.8 tonnes of carbon saved per annum. 

Building automation: Priva BlueID Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) were installed across all plant rooms, enabling the status and performance of all heating and hot water systems to be viewed and optimised via a web-enabled dashboard. This will save the college in excess of £4,400 per year along with nearly 33 tonnes of carbon.

Emitter controls: Programmable Room Thermostats were installed in 51 Fan Convector Unit heated zones, along with 98 Thermostatic Radiator Valves and integration of underfloor heating into BEMS control. This will yield nearly £2,200 a year savings and provide around 16 tonnes of carbon savings per annum.