LONDON, November 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The Government's flagship Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme is in danger of failing to meet its zero-carbon schools target, a new inquiry has found.
And despite the eight-month 'Beyond Buildings' inquiry finding that the behavioural change of children and teachers was the most significant way of helping reduce schools energy consumption, the inquiry heard evidence that BSF still looks to costly 'green' technologies like biomass boilers and solar panels.
In April 2007 the Government announced an extra GBP 110 million over 3 years (roughly GBP 0.5 million per school) to address environmental sustainability concerns and to seek a 60% reduction in their carbon footprint.
The Westminster Sustainable Business Forum (WSBF) found funding is dependent on claiming a projected rather than delivering an actual 60% carbon reduction.
As a result, most new schools, built under Private Finance Initiatives (PFI), will be paying their builders/operators around GBP 20,000 a year for up to 25 years whether a school reduces its carbon footprint or not.
Crucially, schools cannot use this GBP 110 million funding to promote behaviour change without which carbon footprints can not be substantially reduced.
To show what could be done, one of the schools highlighted in the report already encourages pupils to behave sustainably by training them to set up and run self-elected 'energy teams' to start to raise awareness of energy problems and save energy.(1)
The eight-month inquiry launched today in Parliament and chaired by Barry Sheerman MP, Chair of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee and the Rt Hon Nick Raynsford MP, former construction minister, heard evidence from head teachers, local and central government representatives, contractors, architects, energy providers and technology experts and makes over 30 recommendations to Government.
Barry Sheerman MP said:
'Although there is an enormous amount to praise in BSF's achievements, 'Beyond Buildings' shows that if we're really going to reduce the carbon footprint of our schools, we must properly address the behaviour of students and teachers and helping them to understand the impact their use of a building has on the environment. That's a good lesson for our children to learn and one that will help secure a real impact on reducing schools long-term carbon footprint.'
Nick Raynsford MP said:
'Our inquiry found that all too often environmentally sustainable designs risk ending up as environmentally unsustainable buildings for future generations. We have to ensure contractors are held to account for the long-term operation of school buildings not just their initial specification'.
Amongst the inquiries recommendations are calls for:- - Government must promote behaviour change as the key method of reducing the carbon footprint of new schools. - Government must not prioritise lowest cost over achieving long-term sustainability considerations. - Government must ensure construction and maintenance contractors are accountable for schools energy consumption over the life of the contract. - IT and computing suppliers must work with schools to help promote reduced energy usage. - Government to ensure a higher priority is given to evaluating environmental sustainability in the assessment of BSF contracts.
The report has been sponsored by Interserve, Polypipe and Thorpe Killworth.
Notes to Editors
(1) One 'energy group' has produced its own YouTube video asking fellow pupils and local residents, including Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis, about their views on climate change. URL/link available on request.
The Westminster Sustainable Business Forum (WSBF) is a high-level coalition of key UK businesses, government agencies and parliamentarians which seeks to promote effective sustainability policy.
We bring together leading UK businesses who share a belief in the need to operate in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable way and who understand that these concerns need to be incorporated into core business practices in order for companies to prosper in the long-term.
The WSBF is a Policy Connect activity. Policy Connect is a party politically neutral and not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting better policy discussion across the skills, sustainability, health and financial policy fields.
Interserve are a services, maintenance and building group operating in the public and private sectors in the UK and internationally offering advice, design, construction and facilities management services for society's infrastructure.
Polypipe is one of Europe's most innovative manufacturers of plastic piping systems for residential, commercial and infrastructure sectors.
Thorpe Kilworth design, manufacture and install high quality, innovative, flexible and adaptable furniture to create stimulating and innovative learning environments.
SOURCE: Policy Connect
CONTACT: For further details including embargoed copies of the report,case studies, interview opportunities and background information, pleasecontact: Daniel Golding, Communications Manager, Policy Connect,+44(0)20-7202-8587, firstname.lastname@example.org