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Existing schools pose biggest obstacle to carbon targets

The chair of the zero carbon task force Robin Nicholson has told the AJ achieving energy efficiency in new build schools is not enough

Nicholson of Edward Cullinan Architects, whose task force had been asked to look at making all new schools zero carbon within six years, said : ‘The existing building stock is the real problem.

‘In terms of the impact the existing estate is more difficult to deal with than new schools.’

Schools secretary Ed Balls this week welcomed the findings of the task force’s investigation but admitted the government would fail to meet its target of making all new schools carbon free by 2016.

The Secretary instead announced free display energy meters for all schools, four pilot zero carbon schools by 2016, and an increase in the 2013 carbon reduction target from 60 per cent to 80 per cent.

Meeting zero-carbon targets in new schools will be ‘difficult and expensive,’ said Nicholson, but he added: ‘There’s an awful lot to be done immediately, and a lot can be done relatively easily.’

Nicholson has welcomed the decision for a blanket roll out of free display energy meters, claiming the data from the devices can be fed into the school server and become part of the curriculum for students.

For existing schools energy usage and carbon emissions can be cost effectively reduced by up to 65 per cent according to Nicholson. However he warns that further reductions become more expensive.

‘What is absolutely terrible is that there is no consistent repository of performance data,’ said the chair of the task force, demanding more ‘real examples.’

Nicholson pointed to recently opened St Luke’s School in Wolverhampton by Architype (pictured) which has BREEAM excellent rating and is energy performance certificate A, as a good example of a new build.

The refurbished Ashley primary at Walton-on-Thames reduced energy consumption by 50 per cent in its first year due to behavioural change and without adding insulation according to Nicholson.

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