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Blog

Sustainable schools – a lesson for us all

07 July by Emma Hawker

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With £1billion for new schools and £560million for repairs, government funding has recently been announced to help rebuild the economy post-COVID. 

As the number of pupils grow it’s vital that the restoration happens soon. 640 new schools are needed to keep up with current rates of demand. The challenge of keeping up with demand also gives the opportunity to invest in greener, cleaner schools. 

With the commitment to net-zero by 2050, it’s time we made both a positive impact on education and the environment. Greener schools are a prime opportunity to explain, at a young age, the benefits of sustainability.  ​They're also a prime opportunity for recruitment in the green construction industry.


Green is good 

To ensure a school’s carbon footprint is reduced, there needs to be focus on heating, lighting, hot water, catering, and electricity for information and communication technology (ICT).  

Ways to reduce energy consumption could include: 

  • Better insulation in the building 

  • Double-glazing throughout 

  • Temperature control in each classroom 

  • LED lighting 

  • Controls over ICT equipment (e.g. switching off computers) 

To take this a step further, and go fully carbon neutral, schools would also need to replace gas boilers for electric heat pumps and provide on-site renewable energy sources, such as solar panels.  

What about the cost? 

Is it more expensive to build greener schools? In the US found construction costs increased by less that 2% which was easily off-set by the first year of energy savings made. Constructing zero carbon buildings is also cheaper than retrofitting conventional buildings. 

Equally, there are savings to made in energy performance of schools. The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), identified 6,760 GWh of potential energy savings in schools - borne out by a recent BEIS competition involving smart meters where one school lowered their gas costs by 35%. 

A new way to learn 

With the rise in exposure for the likes of Greta Thunberg and Friday’s for Future, green schools provide an ideal opportunity to put climate change at the forefront on the curriculum. 

Wellbeing is also vitally important especially with the fallout of mental health issues due to the impact of COVID-19, natural light and well-designed, greener schools - ‘well buildings’ - will make a difference to both academic success and personal health.  

The knock-on effect of greener schools is education of the wider community where parents learn through their children and as pivotal places for the community to come together, everyone can learn about sustainability and its benefits.  

Time to build 

The educational and wellbeing benefits are clear to see so now we need to get construction moving again. Building green schools will provide a much-needed post-lockdown boost to the economy and the workforce. Whether that’s civil and structural engineers, project managers, sustainability consultants or renewable energy experts. 

If you’re in the construction business and have roles that you need help recruiting, then please get in touch. We’ve been working in the energy, environment, sustainability, health, safety and wellbeing recruitment since 1993 and our consultants understand the sectors and can ensure the perfect match of candidates to your roles. Call 01202 888986 or email: info@allen-york.com to discuss your requirements. 


Source: https://theconversation.com/uk-government-pledges-1-billion-to-rebuild-schools-heres-why-they-need-to-be-sustainable-141667