Supplementary memorandum submitted by
This note has been prepared to outline how school
design needs to be changed in order to reduce the ecological impact
of the buildings in construction and operation in order to support
a Climate Change Mitigation Strategy that targets a stabilisation
of CO2 levels in the order of 550ppm.
The note is concerned with an aspect, Environmental
Sustainability alone, and specifically carbon emissions. Socio-economic
needs have not been considered. However, the design and operation
of School Buildings play a fundamental part in the education of
today's children in how to deal with an issue that is likely to
become a fundamental change driver over their lifetime.
Where should our focus be?
Our impact upon the planets ability to regulate
CO2 levels can be broadly split in to two issues:
Reducing the ability of planetary
systems to absorb atmospheric carbon.
The primary method in which Schools can support
the tackling of these issues is through curriculum development
and strong leadership in citizenship.
However, of all building types, school building
design should lead in demonstrating the level of reduction required
in order to stabilise carbon emissions at an acceptable level.
How far do we need to go and why?
Within the global scientific community, there
is disagreement regarding how much we need to reduce carbon emissions
in order to achieve an acceptable concentration of atmospheric
carbondioxide. A significant number of variables are currently
preventing the agreement of an accurate figure. Estimates seem
to range from 60 to 100%. The following is indicative of the process
According to the Met Office, it
is predicted that by the year 2030 the capacity of the biosphere
to absorb carbon will be 2.7 billion tonnes per year. Therefore,
in order for the carbon cycle to achieve balance, the world's
population can emit no more than 2.7 billion tonnes. In 2030,
global population is likely to be around 8.2 billion. Therefore
each person in the world will have a carbon allowance of 0.33
tonnes. The UK currently emits 2.6 tonnes
per person. Therefore a reduction of 87% is required to achieve
a sustainable level of carbon emissions. This is a simplistic
approach and does not take in to account the negative effect of
the 200 years that CO2 remains in the atmosphere. 
The UK Government's draft Climate Change Bill
commits the county to reducing Carbon emissions by 60% by the
year 2050. Irrespective of the actual reduction figure required,
due to the rate at which our building stock is refreshed (approximately
1% per annum), new and refurbished building carbon emissions need
to be reduced dramatically in order to have any effect upon total
emissions from buildings (currently around 1/3 of UK emissions).
If, for instance, 70% of all schools are to
be refurbished or replaced between 2010 and 2050, to achieve the
60% reduction the new and refurbished schools would collectively
need to operate at an 86% reduction below current emissions in
order to achieve the overall 60% reduction.
Although it is acknowledged that significant
levels of carbon reduction will be virtually impossible to achieve
on a wide scale immediately, there are several reasons why a strong
target needs to be introduced immediately:
Carbon emissions in schools
are still rising due to ICT proliferation;
The Design and Construction
techniques required to achieve this figure are not widely understood,
therefore there is s significant capacity issue; and
There is a need to realign public
and construction industry understanding of the degree of change
Therefore, a standard of design, construction
and operation is required that reflects zero climatic impact.
It is acknowledged that in the vast majority of cases this standard
will not be achieved and therefore should not be required under
building regulations. However, an environmental "kitemark"
should be defined that correlates with zero impact in order to
demonstrate how much design and operational behaviour needs to
change in order to deliver schools which will work within the
ecological capacity of the planet.
What does this mean for school design?
The issues can be split in to direct and indirect
School Building design drives the direct emissions and has
a significant impact upon the indirect emissions. It should also
be noted that behavioural changes are vital in order to effect
the requisite reduction in carbon emissions.
From our work in designing low and zero carbon buildings
in other sectors, the following issues should be considered:
Extension of the school day to maximise the
utilisation of the building;
Significant changes in learning models to
support a move towards high levels of pupil centred learning from
home in order to reduce the size of the building;
Increase in landtake to maximise daylighting
and natural ventilation;
Banning Air Conditioning, unless a system
can be proposed that has lower carbon emissions than a well designed
naturally ventilated solution;
Softening of acoustic regulations to promote
Integrating energy systems with surrounding
residential developments to maximise plant operational efficiencies;
Significant increases in capital cost.
Why BREEAM in its current form is inappropriate
The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment
Method (BREEAM) is an easy to use tool used across the construction
industry to assess the sustainability credentials of a building.
The tool functions by awarding points across a structured matrix
of design, construction and operational characteristics. It is
a reasonable tool to guide teams in improving the sustainability
credentials of a building. However, it has two characteristics
which render it currently inappropriate as a methodology to achieve
the degree of carbon emissions required to achieve the 60% reduction
Only around 1/3 of the assessment relates
to carbon emissions.
BREEAM "excellent" can be achieved
with a relatively minor improvement in carbon reduction.
These issues need to be addressed if BREEAM is to be used
to support the headline reduction target.
Based upon our knowledge of the introduction of strong carbon
reduction targets, the likely short term impacts of the introduction
of a strong carbon reduction target for the sector are:
Increased Design and Construction Programme
in the order of 30% due to Technical and Delivery Capacity issues;
Increased Capital Costs in the order of 20%
due to Design and Construction changes.
The latter point may be partially addressed by revisiting
the space norms and curriculum.
The incorporation of carbon reduction planning
within the procurement of ICT solutions for schools.
Re-evaluation of the acoustic design standards.
Undertake research to establish how a school
would operate if it had a physical size 20% lower than currently
defined under BB98.
Undertake a desktop study to examine how
a school can be designed and operated to achieve the requisite
carbon reduction targets.
Colin Forrest The Cutting Edge: Climate Science to April 2005:
Energy Information Administration, International Energy Annual
2003, 2005, Table H.cco2 (World Per Capita Carbon Dioxide Emissions
from the Consumption and Flaring of Fossil Fuels,1980-2003). Back
The Royal Society, A Guide to Facts and Fictions about Climate
Change, 2005: http:///www.royalsoc.ac.uk/downloaddoc.asp?id=1630 Back