Written answers

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Department of Education and Skills

School Facilities

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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259. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the timeframe for the commencement and progression of the deep energy retrofit for schools built prior to 2008 to deliver on 2030 and 2050 climate action targets; the mechanism that will be in place for schools to submit applications as part of the Government commitment to the €4.4 billion National Development Plan 2021-2025; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49224/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The National Development Plan 2021-2030 which was published on 4th Oct 2021, provides capital funding of over €4.4bn for investment in school infrastructure during the period 2021 to 2025.

During the period 2021 to 2025, the NDP allocation for the School Education sector will provide for

- an average of 150 to 200 school building projects will be delivered annually over the period 2021 to 2025 to provide necessary additional capacity and support the modernisation of existing school facilities including as much as possible future proofing from a climate action perspective.

-proactively catering for special needs requirements with a particular emphasis at post-primary level

-a strengthened focus on refurbishment of existing school stock as part of underpinning the transition of the school system to an era of Net Zero carbon by 2050. This includes a school laboratory build and modernisation programme, a PE build and modernisation programme and the commencement and progression of a deep energy retrofit programme

-continuation of the embedding of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment

There continues to be a strong Climate Action dimension to the additional/modernisation programme.

My Department and the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications established a jointly funded pathfinder programme with the SEAI, testing and demonstrating energy efficiency and decarbonisation retrofit approaches. This pathfinder is a great example of collaboration ensuring the deployment of new design approaches and technologies are introduced to the educational environment on an evidence based approach.

This Pathfinder programme is paving the way for, and informing, a much larger national schools’ programme for the energy retrofit of schools built prior to 2008 as included in the National Development Plan. It is facilitating research on a range of typical retrofit options, which will have been tried and tested. It is providing valuable development information for a solution driven delivery strategy which will be founded on a solid evidence base that has proven the robustness and scalability of renewable solutions within the schools’ sector.

Now in its fifth year, the pilot programme has completed retrofits in 39 schools across Ireland to date with work in an additional six schools presently underway for delivering deep retrofit to a Building Energy Rating (BER) of B with renewable heating systems. Each school underwent a comprehensive assessment to ensure that the measures were suitable for that school and would deliver value to both the school and learnings for the national retrofit programme.

The upgrades target a Building Energy Rating of B, 50% energy efficiency improvement and 50% emission reduction. The works will involve upgrades to doors and windows, insulation, lighting and heating upgrades as well as renewable technologies.

The Government’s Climate Action Plan will outline how energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions targets are to be achieved and is due to be published this year, this will inform future development and delivery of the pathfinder programme.

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