Sodexo Ireland – Using tools of engagement to bring about energy and cost reductions in schools




Company Description:

Sodexo develops, manages and delivers a diverse range of services, designed to improve the quality of life for our clients and customers, from food services to construction management and from reception to asset maintenance for our clients in offices, schools, prisons, hospitals, military bases, remote sites and hospitality events.  In Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, 1,800 employees operate on 180 sites


Business Issue:

Sodexo Ireland is part of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with ten schools on behalf of the Department of Education. The contract specifies that Sodexo should support the schools with energy management although it doesn’t prescribe how.  Environmental practices are largely based on behaviours.  In order to achieve meaningful outcomes, it is necessary to have all relevant stakeholders on board.


Solution Applied:

In order to effect tangible change, Sodexo realised a collaborative, innovative and sustainable approach was needed beyond the traditional improvements to systems and equipment.  Establishing energy committees and energy champions in each school and involving Sodexo teams, teachers, students and principals was seen as a winning formula to achieve improvements that would benefit all stakeholders.

Sodexo has collaborated with 10 schools in Ireland to support them to make inroads into the reduction of energy consumption and the implementation of an effective energy management programme.  As well as contributing to cost savings and better practices, the programme also contributes to community-based benefits such as empowerment and trust.


Company Benefits:

The outcomes not only helped Sodexo comply with the terms of its contracts by delivering significant energy and cost reductions but it exceeded expectations by developing awareness, confidence  and sense of purpose amongst all parties involved.

Our partnership with schools in Ireland is a demonstration of how we have engaged and partnered with our clients and customers to deliver our commitments to reduce our carbon footprint through a better management of energy and emissions.  It is now embedded to our approach to all public-private partnership contracts with schools going forward and has become our unique proposition and business differentiator.

According to Margot Slattery, Managing Director, Sodexo Ireland, “By consulting, engaging and empowering all stakeholders, we have moved the energy agenda from the experts’ world to the community, thus laying the ground for real change”.


Stakeholder Benefits

The creation of energy committees helped improve the understanding of each stakeholder group’s needs and aspirations, supporting co-creation and co-ownership of ideas to improve system, processes and awareness on site. The process of engagement increased their stake in energy management at school and at home. The system and practices implemented focused on the following areas:

  • Renewable Energy Resources – on site rainwater harvesting, solar      panels and wind turbines. This equipment not only provides sustainable      sources of energy but also help raise awareness of energy with teachers      and students.
  • Efficient Heating Design and Controls – including zoned, control      systems as part of the modern building management system (BMS) which      ensures the heating is controlled to specific times and temperatures and      only as required.
  • Efficient Lighting Systems and controls – Energy efficient light      fittings controlled by photocells, motion detection and daylight sensors.

For example, rain water collection installed on the school roof of Coláiste Pobail Bheanntrai for use in flushing urinals and toilets, resulted in a reduction of 87% in fresh water usage and a monitory saving of €5219.  Solar panels installed in Wicklow Community School created 15550KWh of electricity equating to a saving of €2690.



Encouraging people to become involved in the campaign.



In order to address sustainability challenges which go beyond the silos of any one stakeholder (business, school, local community, national geography) a genuinely collaborative and mutually advantageous approach is key to success.


Further Information:

Elaine Heelan, Facilities manager, Sodexo Ireland,