Examination of Witnesses (Questions 500-519)|
1 NOVEMBER 2006
Q500 Chairman: Come on, that is the
standard. Come on.
Mr Mayfield: No, the standards
that are given.
Chairman: That is central direction.
Douglas would hate that. You are going to say, "Within these
parameters, you should work". Douglas is saying, why do you
not let the local community and head get on with building?
Q501 Mr Carswell: I assume that there
will be a national curriculum in 15 years' time.
Mr Terry: I would not see it as
a problem in letting heads in their communities actually go forward
on these programmes, but they have to have the basic understanding
in order to make those kind of decisions.
Q502 Chairman: No, no. Stan, you
have to spell out what you mean by basic understanding. What Stewart
is saying is a basic understanding and what Martin is saying is
a basic understanding is very different, is it not? I take it
that Alan would disagree with that too. He would want a different
standard, whether he wants BREEAM or a super BREEAM, I do not
know, but clearly from your evidence you submitted to the Committee
you do want guiding. You do not want people not having sustainability
knowledge at the local level.
Dr Davies: Best practice sustainability
knowledge should be mandated into standards and may I make reference
to the Government's Sustainable Procurement Taskforce which provides
some very valuable insight that is directly relevant to BSF programme
in terms of both specification but also particularly capability
Q503 Chairman: That relates to standards
being about recycled material you could put in, etc, does
Dr Davies: As just one example,
Q504 Chairman: Martin, I jumped on you
unfairly then. You are a sharp operator, are you not? You are
Arup, you are big. I know that your work is co-op which is always
rather nice to remember but you go in there and you could have
a naive head teacher who has never built a school. You can get
away with anything, can you not?
Mr Mayfield: We have moral obligations
not to get away with anything! No, we win commissions because
of our credentials and our abilities to produce more sustainable
buildings. The problems we have is the datum which is out there.
When we say to somebody, "Sustainability actually means this",
it is so far removed from what today's expectations are in terms
of how it looks, how it operates and how long it is going to take
to build and everything else that it just gets thrown out. It
is nowhere near the agenda. We are driving in that direction but
we do not have a framework within which to say, "That works.
That is what is required and that is the right standard".
The standards that are set are too easy to achieve and do not
reflect sustainable development.
Mr Yates: Part of the reason why
I think they are very easy to throw out is because the client,
in terms of the school, the LA and so on, do not feel that they
understand the issues. In terms of needing additional guidance,
I agree absolutely in terms of, we need guidance for those stakeholders
in the process in order that they can ask the right questions
and they can avoid having the wool pulled over their eyes. I also
agree that I do not think the industry needs a lot more guidance
in terms of how to meet the objective of more sustainable schools.
What they need are clear performance standards and I absolutely
agree that those need to be set at national level initially but
with some degree of flexibility at a local level on some of the
Q505 Mr Carswell: It is an interesting
answer but I am perplexed because you said that it has to be national
standards. Why? Why can the local authorities in the town halls
of Essex and Cornwall and London not decide these things?
Mr Yates: For a start, they do
not have the expertise, but potentially they could have some knowledge.
A lot of the issues are issues at a national level in terms of
overall carbon emissions and in terms of materials procurement.
It is not even a national issue, it is a European issue or indeed
a global issue. So, allowing the decision making process to go
right down to the very local level does not seem to make much
sense in those areas. I think where I would agree that local priorities
have to take over is when you start getting into issues, particularly
issues of social sustainability in terms of the links of a school
with the community, the whole extended school agenda. I think
that sustainability is a very broad agenda.
Q506 Mr Carswell: It begins to sound
to me as if sustainability is a modern justification for more
Mr Yates: I think it is simple,
clear performance standards coming from the centre and then you
allow local interpretation of that in terms of how those standards
will be met, but you have to make sure that everyone involved
in the process fully understands what those mean and part of the
problem at the moment seems to me that the educational side does
not understand. Your head teacher is not going to understand and
we should not be expecting those sorts of people to understand,
the detailed technical balances that have to be taken account
of. You are weighing up options. There is not a simple black and
white solution to any of this which is why BREEAM as a method
is set up in the way it is.
Chairman: We have to move on because
we have limited time. We would now like to look at the BSF process
Q507 Stephen Williams: Following
on from what Douglas was saying about involvement right down at
the grass roots level, if I may begin with Dr Davies from the
Sustainable Development Commission. You have recommended that
various stakeholders should be involved in the design process
of the school, which obviously would include the head teacher.
What sort of other people should be involved at design process
Dr Davies: If you take the head
teacher and the leadership team who of course bring their community
input as well because they are clearly major stakeholders for
the school, then it is important that there is the right technical
consistency and I think that the idea of having advisers and a
supporting team for schools going through this process is key
and then there has to be the Las and other stakeholders that are
concerned about the alignment with Government policy through the
Department, the DfES.
Q508 Stephen Williams: Is the head
teacher the principal spokesperson for everyone involved at the
professional level in the school or would you expect the designers
and the architects to talk to the cook about the kitchens or the
children about the playground and the corridors?
Dr Davies: My experience in business
as well as in the area of sustainability is that engagement brings
great ideas from all sorts of unexpected places. I wholeheartedly
recommend that engagement processes are set up that allow that
to happen. Coming back to this issue of 13 to 18 weeks to get
these decisions made and not all the information being available
at the front of that period of time, engagement is largely squeezed
out of the BSF process.
Q509 Stephen Williams: As there is
not enough time, do you think your recommendation in practice
does not actually take place to the level you recommend?
Dr Davies: Yes, absolutely.
Q510 Stephen Williams: If you look
at primary schools that probably litter all of our constituencies,
certainly I have looked at primary schools in South Wales and
they look remarkably similar to primary schools in Bristol that
were put up in Victorian and Edwardian times, so there was a national
model, if you like, of designs of primary schools in that period.
Do we really need different schools to flourish in different ways
in different parts of the country given that a level playing field
in topography in 800 to 1,200 pupils? Can we not have a standard
secondary school or do they all need to look different?
Mr Mayfield: There are climatic
differences across the country and those are going to change over
the next 20-30 years. There are different solutions for different
areas but there are overriding issues that do not change such
as the relationship with the sun. All school buildings should
have a relationship with the sun path, so you should be able to
look at a school and know which way is south from the way that
the school looks. So, there are some issues that are the same
but there are regional climatic differences.
Q511 Chairman: It rains everywhere
Mr Mayfield: Absolutely.
Q512 Chairman: That is not going
to change, is it? Your guys in your profession build flat roofs
all over Yorkshire and Lancashire and probably in Scotland. They
have leaked ever since. The Victorian schools did not have flat
roofs and they do not leak and some of them are pretty darn sustainable
today, are they not?
Mr Mayfield: Well designed flat
roofs can be a benefit.
Q513 Chairman: Could you show us
one? We would love to see one.
Mr Mayfield: Yes, I can show you
some schools with well designed flat roofs because, if the water
sits on it, when the water evaporates, it takes heat away from
Q514 Chairman: Martin, you are being
a bit... No, you are not being disingenuous! Martin, you are suggesting
that there is somewhere in the world that you know about the sustainable
school. It is not in England, so we cannot see it easily, but
could you point us to where this has developed in order that we
could look at one?
Mr Mayfield: I do not think that
you can point to a sustainable school. I think that you can point
to different schools that are responding to different climatic
issues and, taken together, there are a set of principles.
Q515 Chairman: If we locked you in
a room for all the weekend, could you come up with a sustainable
design that we could replicate all over Britain? That is what
Stephen is asking.
Mr Mayfield: Yes. However, a sustainable
school is only as good as the infrastructure in which it sits.
So, it will not get there on its own, it needs to be part of a
waste, transportation and energy infrastructure that supports
it in the right manner. So, yes, you could design a building that
fits into that but not on its own. Well, you could but it would
not be repeatable in a formal manner.
Q516 Chairman: Would you measure
the Victorian school? I went to a 1904 Edwardian school the other
day and it seemed to be pretty sustainable to me. It was made
of local brick; it had local tiles on the roof; it did not have
any air conditioning; the children seemed to be reasonably well
served in it; they did not have much of a playground which was
the only downside. Are we in danger of trendy, fashionable buildings
replacing buildings that are pretty sustainable anyway in terms
of their carbon footprint?
Mr Mayfield: I think that there
is a lot to be learned from the past. I do not think that we need
to start afresh, but those buildings are really poorly insulated,
so the geometries of them are good and some of the materials are
sustainable but there are things that need to be done to change
that. I said before that a sustainable school will look radically
different and it will. It will still look like a school but it
will look radically different to the schools we have today.
Q517 Stephen Williams: I turn to
Mr Yates and talk about BREEAM. What does BREEAM actually tell
us about a school because, as I understand it, there were nine
factors but a school might not have to meet all of them? If a
school meets with BREEAM criteria, what can we actually expect
Mr Yates: What BREEAM is trying
to do is to provide an overall measure of environmental sustainability.
It is not a full sustainability method; it is concentrated on
the environmental aspects. It does that by evaluating performance
against a wide range of issues in those issue categories that
you have talked about and it brings all of that together into
a single score, or a single rating, so that there is a clear message
in terms of the overall impact of this building on the environment.
What it does not do is to set specific standards against each
individual area. There is an element of tradability in there which
allows for taking account of the local context, it allows for
the local priorities, the sort of local decision-making that was
talked about earlier, flexibility in terms of design solutions,
and so on, but it is really trying to provide this overall measure
of environmental impact and it does that through a weighting system
which takes account of the relative importance of each of the
diverse issues that it looks at.
Q518 Stephen Williams: Given this
weighting system, suppose a school has been built on a brownfield
site but the materials that were used to build it were not terribly
good and it wasted a lot of water and it was badly insulated,
could it still meet the criteria on average?
Mr Yates: It will get some ticks
in boxes in terms of its site selection but it will perform very
badly in those other areas, and, because of the way the scoring
system works, there is a lot more emphasis placed on what you
might consider to be the key environmental impact, particularly
in terms of CO2, which is 25% of the overall score. So, it uses
the weighting scoring system to place emphasis on the key areas.
Q519 Stephen Williams: The expectation
is that schools should aim for a "very good" BREEAM
assessment or even an "excellent". Are there grades
below that? Is there an adequate one or a good one?
Mr Yates: There is a "pass",
a "good", a "very good" and an "excellent".
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