Ground Source Heat Pumps for Schools

Both old and new schools can benefit from renewable and reliable Ground Source Heat Pumps, which use the free heat from the ground to keep your pupils and staff comfortable with heating and hot water all year round. 

Find out how Kensa could help your school today

Ground source heat pumps are an ideal system for schools, as they are a ‘fit-and-forget’ technology which offers substantial carbon and cost reductions.

The technology offers long-lasting benefits like reduced overheads, lower carbon emissions and long-term running cost savings.

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Why should schools install ground source heat pumps?

The DfE’s preferred choice for schools

The Department for Education’s (DfE) school rebuilding program for England, launched in 2021, aims to rebuild 500 schools in a decade. Following COP26, the DfE has committed to keeping the education system at the forefront of sustainability and innovation to help meet the government’s target of reducing UK emissions by 78% by 2035 and reaching net zero by 2050.

Where appropriate, all heat pump installations shall be Ground Source. When a connection to a district heating system is not available. 

School Output Specification Technical Annex 2F: Mechanical Services and Public Health Engineering - 1 Sept 2022

Lower carbon emissions

There are over 24,000 schools across England, and the combined emissions from these buildings represent a quarter of the carbon emissions in the public sector. A strategic approach to decarbonising public sector buildings is required to deliver on the UK’s net-zero carbon targets.

The DfE’s school rebuilding program for England, launched in 2021, aims to rebuild 500 schools in a decade. Following COP26, the DfE has committed to keeping the education system at the forefront of sustainability and innovation to help meet the government’s target of reducing UK emissions by 78% by 2035 and reaching net zero by 2050.


Cost-effective option

Ground source heat pumps can save you up to 77% on your energy bills compared to a fossil-fuelled system. They require minimal maintenance and have a lifespan of over 20 years. 

A 2022 report through Energy Systems Catapult that DESNEZ and the DfE commissioned to identify the principal challenges and opportunities associated with decarbonising the English school estate found that:

  • Retrofit of existing schools to a low carbon, net zero or even “energy plus” standard is perfectly possible.
  • The retrofit cost will vary between schools but, in some cases, could be more expensive than building a new school. Therefore, an estate-wide approach to identifying the most cost-effective route to decarbonisation is essential.
  • Current policies and regulations around school energy standards must be revised to meet a net zero future. Every new school built today is one more that requires additional investment to meet the net zero target.
  • Current regulations are design-compliance-based – there is little focus on the actual achieved operational performance, and there is evidence that new schools often generate much more carbon than designed.

Can schools be retrofitted with ground source heat pumps?

Existing schools can update their heating system to an efficient ground source heat pump to help with their decarbonisation plans. 

When retrofitting a school with a ground source heat pump system, the highest priority will be keeping the disruption to students to a minimum. 

Kensa will work with the school at the planning stage to ensure that the school can remain operational while considering any building constraints that may be in place due to old or historic buildings. 

Kensa is an expert at ensuring that the works carried out on the school site cause minimal disruption, with disruptive works being planned during school holidays and breaks. 

Case study: Richmond Hill Primary School


A pupil from Richmond Hill Primary Academy, commented:

“We can’t wait to move back into the main school from our portacabins when our classrooms are nice and warm. Our new heating will help the environment, which is really important to us, and not cost as much to run. This will help us but also help other children who come to Richmond Hill in the future.”



Debbie Secker, Principal at Richmond Hill Primary Academy, said:

We are grateful to the DfE for including our school in this programme and are looking forward to having the new Kensa ground source heat pumps installed to provide our children with a much-needed warm and comfortable learning environment.

It is fantastic that we will have a permanent, reliable heating system to save the school money on our energy bills. The fact that it will also help us lower our carbon footprint as we tread a path towards an energy-efficient and greener future is so important to our children, our hard-working staff and the wider community.

Economies of scale

To get the most out of their decarbonisation programs, schools may need more capacity to implement climate improvement works for their buildings. Local authorities and multi-academy trusts could use economies of scale to retrofit clusters of schools.

Taking the onus away from the interest and resourcefulness of individual headteachers or other key staff, Kensa can deliver a coordinated approach to the complete retrofit of these buildings. 

How does it work? 

Kensa can remove the complications of decarbonising multiple schools at one by offering a full service, from feasibility study to delivery, including supply, fitting, finance, and project management. Kensa has the knowledge and experience to get it right.

The team can help with complete fabric improvements and the heat pumps; our experienced team can manage and advise on all aspects of school improvement measures.

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What are the benefits of having a ground source heat pump?

Having unheated classrooms during the wintertime creates a distracting environment for students and can harm their health and well-being. 

Scientific studies have revealed how room temperature can impact a student’s learning potential. Research shows that studying in a room that is either too hot or too cold can reduce their ability to absorb information. It concluded that students in both the warmer and cooler rooms had poor test results compared to those in a controlled room where the temperature was maintained at around 21°C. 

A separate study at Cornell University yielded the same results, concluding the optimum temperature for studying was between 21°C and 25°C.  A cold room will keep you awake; your body has to use its energy to stay warm, thus reducing the ability to concentrate.

UK government statistics show that households with children and people aged 24 or under had the highest prevalence of fuel poverty. This means that attending school allows school-aged children to be warm throughout the day.

What funding is available?

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme provides grants for public sector bodies to fund heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures.

Case study: Stamfordham Primary School


Guy Opperman, Minister of Employment MP, said:

“I was delighted to visit Stamfordham Primary School and meet the team. Tackling climate change is vital, and it was good to see an example of local investment in ground source heat pumps.

“It was great speaking with the Year 4 pupils about the importance of tackling climate change and getting to net zero emissions. A huge thank you to Northumberland County Council and Kensa Contracting for all their work installing the new heating system.”


Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said:

“As a Council, we will continue to lead the way by reducing the energy consumption of our estate and installing renewable heat solutions in our buildings.

“Moving forward, we will seek to further support the implementation of heat pumps across the county through funding streams that we can access, starting with properties where the heating system needs replacement to maximise the benefits.”