Organic Energy Case Studies

The Leys is an independent school in Cambridge
Nathan Keen and Dragon Renewables MD Jonathan Cooke

The Leys is an independent school in Cambridge, founded in 1875, and today home to 560 pupils aged 11-18, including 250 boarders. Famous alumni include 'the man in the white suit', journalist Martin Bell, and the author James Hilton, who based the main character in his novel 'Goodbye Mr Chips’ on one of his schoolmasters at the Leys, W.H. Belgarnie.

Sustainability plays an important part in the school's ethos and it has won several Green Flag awards from the International Eco-Schools programme. 
A recent Energy Savings and Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) analysed all the premises energy outputs, and out of this study came the idea to install solar panels on the swimming pool roof.

Nathan Keen, who has been the school's Facilities Director for the last 10 years was in charge of the project. Having previously spent 7 years in an engineering role at the British Antarctic Survey, Nathan is no stranger to harnessing the extreme power of the elements!

"We'd had solar panels on the roof of one of the boarding houses for about 10 years but several had broken and weren't working efficiently. Dragon Renewables were recommended to us and did an excellent job replacing these, so when we decided to install solar thermal panels on the swimming pool we were confident they could meet our requirements," explains Nathan.

The school's swimming pool originally opened in 1906 and was Cambridge's first enclosed pool. Today it is used both by the school and as a teaching facility by outside organisations. A total of 60 Gasokol solar thermal panels were required for the job, 30 on either side of the roof. These were supplied by Welshpool based Organic Energy, and installed over two days by a team of 4 headed by Dragon Renewables MD Jonathan Cooke.

Of course a project of this scale requires a significant level of investment, but here fate took a hand.

"We'd wanted to do the swimming pool project for some time, as a positive demonstration to pupils about the importance of sustainability. Quite coincidentally, at the same time as we needed to raise around £100,000 to complete the project, the school was bequeathed a legacy of this exact amount from an old boy" says Nathan.

"I hope he would have been pleased with how we've invested his gift. It's early days, but we're on target for a return on investment of around £9,000 a year, and, importantly, a reduction in 12 tonnes of CO2. And with the RHI payments we are projecting a payback time of 10 years maximum."

For further details please call Organic Energy on 01938 530 070 or email