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Exploring Electric Vehicle Charging in Schools

The current shift towards sustainable transportation has resulted in Electric Vehicles (EVs) becoming increasingly popular. EV charging stations are now a common feature in car parks across the UK and many schools are considering installing charging points as part of their sustainability strategy and staff retention policies. This initiative not only supports the growing number of staff driving EVs, but also aligns with sustainability goals and helps schools reduce their environmental impact. 

Last month, new measures to support electric vehicle drivers were announced, including more grants for schools. These new grants are for state-funded education institutes with dedicated off-street parking and applications can be made online. Installing EV charging points typically costs around £1,500 to £2,500 (excluding groundworks) but with the new Workplace Charging Scheme, schools can get up to 75% off the cost to buy and install charge stations.

Before implementing an EV charging programme, there are some important things to consider to ensure it’s the right solution for your school. Below we have provided some advice and guidance to schools considering electric vehicle charging in their car parks, offering insights into how you can contribute to a greener future while addressing the logistics of adopting this type of sustainable and forward-thinking infrastructure.


Reasons for Installing EV Charging Points in Schools 

Installing EV charging points can be quite a considerable project, so it’s important to consider the reasons why you want to invest in electric vehicle charging. For example, do you want to generate additional revenue or is your main aim to reduce your carbon footprint? Depending on your reasons for considering EV charging stations, there could be another option to consider to improve sustainability in schools. Researching other energy efficiency technologies and their benefits is key before you decide that this is the project you want to invest in. 

Of course, there are some significant benefits to opting for EV charging though. This strategic initiative can improve your overall sustainability efforts, reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy usage in your community. However, electric vehicle charging works best when integrated with other sustainability plans. Energy-efficient technologies like Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems and battery storage solutions can help you get the most out of this investment and not just maximise the environmental impact, but the financial rewards too. 


Size and Complexity of the Project 

The size and complexity of implementing an EV charging project can vary significantly based on several critical factors. An estate-wide approach is strongly recommended when installing EV charging stations in schools. This strategy prevents a disjointed effort that can be more expensive and lead to inconsistencies in charging costs and maintenance routines. Ensuring consistency of the software and payment offering across the trust EV Chargers is also important.  By consolidating projects across estates, you can ensure a more cost-effective and uniform implementation that improves both the quality and longevity of the charging infrastructure.

Considering the usage profile of school vehicles is key when installing EV charging points too, especially if you’re swapping your fleet to fully electric vehicles. You need to ensure you’re investing in the correct number and type of charging stations. For example, factors such as whether vehicles make multiple trips between sites within a day will dictate whether you need rapid charging points. Using your latest Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR), you can gain a better understanding of your current energy usage including transport fuel, enabling you to ensure your charging infrastructure matches usage trends and needs. 

Another key consideration is the physical work involved with installing EV charging points. Groundwork alterations, such as modifications to car parks, to accommodate EV charging stations can significantly impact the cost of this type of project. Incorporating ducts for future cabling into any ongoing groundwork projects can be cost-effective and help future-proof your estate for installations down the line. It’s important to check your electrical infrastructure and capacity too. It isn’t uncommon for schools to operate close to their maximum supply capacity, so the addition of EV charging stations could require costly upgrades to your electrical system.


Realistic Costs and Financial Rewards

With any sustainability initiative, you need to consider the up-front and ongoing costs. In the case of EV charging points, you also need to consider realistic revenue generation. The potential implications of benefit in kind if free electricity is given away to staff must be carefully considered. The initial outlay for electric vehicle chargers can be substantial. While the grants mentioned above can be beneficial, they often cover only a fraction of the total costs involved. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of the overall cost of this type of project and explore all potential funding avenues to mitigate expenses.

You shouldn’t overlook the potential maintenance costs and responsibilities associated with EV charging either. This is crucial for long-term sustainability and avoiding any unexpected costs in the future. To understand the full scope of the project costs, do some research into the typical operational expenses for the number of EV charging stations you’re considering installing. Ideally, investing in electric vehicle charging shouldn’t end up costing you money, it should be a project that pays for itself over time and even better still, generates regular income. By carefully considering the realistic costs and potential financial rewards, you can make informed decisions that ensure the success of your EV charging initiatives.

It may be worth considering the potential to extend EV charging services beyond the school community. A compelling case for this is installing EV charging stations in settings where the school’s facilities, such as sports centres, are used by the public. Your charging points can meet the needs of the wider public, particularly during off-peak hours, creating a revenue stream to offset the electricity costs. Deciding on a pricing structure for the charging stations is an essential aspect of the project. It can be beneficial to offer different rates for various users, such as staff, parents or external customers. However, this requires a thorough analysis of tax implications and benefits, and it’s recommended that schools get specialist financial advice.


Improving Sustainability in Schools

Ultimately, while there are clear benefits to installing EV charging stations in schools, it’s crucial to consider all aspects of the project before making a final decision. It’s advisable to get some professional, independent advice about this type of sustainability initiative to ensure it’s right for your estate and can have a positive impact on both the environment and your finances. 

With several other strategies to consider, you may find you can reduce your carbon footprint without the significant work involved with EV charging projects. For instance, initiatives such as a Green Travel Plan can significantly reduce environmental impact by encouraging sustainable modes of transportation like walking, cycling and car-sharing. Some simple steps can contribute to a multi-faceted approach towards achieving sustainability goals within educational settings.

EV charging should always be viewed as part of a larger sustainability plan. Other energy-efficient technologies and practices can dramatically lower your carbon footprint, such as installing solar panels, LED lighting, low-carbon heating systems and high-quality insulation. Together, these initiatives can help to reduce energy consumption and lower monthly costs, making them a priority for many estates. 


How Barker Can Help

Here at Barker, we provide comprehensive support with energy and sustainability in the education sector. Our experienced team can help you plan, fund and implement transformational strategies, and we have many years of experience working specifically with school estates. Our Barker Energy360TM process can guide you on your sustainability journey and we can manage the entire process, so you can focus on other objectives. 

Don’t hesitate to contact our team today to discuss sustainability in schools in more detail. 

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