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Schools: Energy

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department is taking to ensure that newly built schools are (a) minimising their gas consumption and (b) maximising their reliance on alternative energy systems such as solar panels and photovoltaic cells. (206177)

The Department requires all new school buildings to reduce carbon emissions from new school buildings by 60 per cent. through a combination of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy systems. This requirement was confirmed in the Children's Plan,

We have developed guidance1 to help the designers of newly built schools achieve this reduction, and are providing additional funding to all new secondary schools within BSF (Building Schools for the Future), academies and One School Pathfinder programmes for this purpose.

The guidance encourages the use of low carbon energy sources for both heat and electricity, without being prescriptive about design solutions. The guidance is supported by a simple piece of software, to be used at the early stages in the design of new buildings, which allows designers to test the potential carbon savings and likely capital costs for combinations of technologies. Both the guidance and the software tool present biomass, heat pumps and combined heat and power as design options to reduce dependence on fossil fuels (such as natural gas), and allow users to evaluate the effect of a number of renewable sources of energy including solar panels and photovoltaic cells.

1 www.teachernet.gov.uk/carbontargets

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much funding will be available during the 2007-08 Session to refurbish schools with (a) low carbon and (b) sustainable energy systems. (206184)

The Department will be investing £21.9 billion in new and refurbished schools over the period 2008-11. This includes £1.9 billion investment for the primary capital programme and £9.6 billion for Building Schools for the Future.

Within the capital programme we do not earmark funding for specific measures such as low carbon or sustainable energy systems. Funding is delegated to local authorities for investment in local priorities. Local authorities, to whom we delegate the funding, are required to meet the Department's carbon reduction target for new buildings, and comply with Building Regulations and local planning requirements. So significant (but unquantifiable) sums of money will go to these purposes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he has taken to improve the management of sustainable energy systems in schools built in the last two years; and if he will make a statement. (206191)

The Department has published a volume of case studies of sustainable schools which highlight examples of good and bad practice, including the operation of low energy systems that have been incorporated in their design. A copy of this publication, “Design of Sustainable Schools—Case Studies”, has been sent to all local authorities.

The DCSF has also provided specific advice on energy management to all schools, not just those built in the past two years. We have prepared a good practice guide on energy and water management; a bursars’ guide to sustainable school operation which focuses on energy; and developed top 10 tips to improve energy and water efficiency. Each of these documents refers users to comprehensive sources of further information.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is responsible for Building Regulations which already require that new schools are provided with full details of the installed systems and their methods of operation and maintenance so that they use no more fuel and power than is reasonable. It is the responsibility of the construction team to produce this information.

Ultimately the management of systems within school buildings is the responsibility of their owners and occupiers.