Energy Town


Notes on Our new school

  • To give some examples of materials that are good and bad thermal insulators
  • To know some of the advantages of energy efficiency
  • To understand that some low energy elements of buildings can be expensive
  • To name some features of low energy buildings
  • To be aware of the importance of energy efficiency in local and global terms

Key words: energy, energy efficiency, electricity, insulation, biomass, hydroelectric, PV cells

Estimated time: 25 mins


Most pupils will: know that good insulators retain heat; give examples of good thermal insulators and poor thermal insulators; know that good energy efficiency reduces fuel costs and energy consumption; be aware of some ways in which the use of different materials and building designs can affect energy efficiency; know that renewable energy sources such as solar panels can generate part of a building’s energy needs; give some reasons why energy efficiency is desirable.

Pupils working at a lower level will: know that heat energy can escape from buildings and suggest some ways that this can be reduced; be able to name some everyday materials that are good thermal insulators; know that some materials are more suitable for buildings than others due to their properties; know that using energy costs money.

Pupils working at a higher level will also: explain how thermal insulators work; understand the effects of energy efficiency on a local and global level; give examples of low-energy building design features and elements; explain why energy efficiency is desirable.

Notes: Can pupils handle a big budget to construct a new energy efficient school? This challenge gives pupils (aged 7–11) the chance to make choices about energy efficient materials and cost, balancing real-life issues as they go.

The challenge should be introduced to the whole class, via an interactive whiteboard if available, so pupils understand what is involved. The challenge can be completed in small groups where pupils can work collaboratively to solve the problems involved and discuss the potential impact of their choices at each stage. Additional support pupils may need help with reading through the building material options and require support in deciding which materials would be the best option. The energy supplier activity may be better suited to pupils working at a higher level due to the calculations involved.

At the end of the lesson, you could discuss as a class how realistic pupils thought the challenge was and what the priorities would be in the real world when planning a new building such as a school, taking into account factors such as cost and energy efficiency.

Go to Our new school activity