Tuesday, 23 November 2021
Department of Education and Skills
100. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications and grants under the school energy retrofit pathfinder programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57307/21]
I would like to advise the Deputy that the Department of Education is at the forefront of design with respect to sustainable energy in school buildings and this performance has been recognised at both national and international level with sustainable energy awards for excellence in design and specification.
Schools that are designed and built, in accordance with the Department’s schools’ technical guidance documents must achieve an A3 Building Energy Rating A3 and have typically up to 20% higher performance than required by the current Building Regulations, along with 10% of primary energy provided via photovoltaics and infrastructure provision for electric vehicle charging.
All new technologies and approaches are tested to ensure compatibility with school design and operational requirements. Successful and repeatable results are then incorporated into all new school designs and refurbishments.
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.
The pathfinder programme has retrofitted 41 schools across Ireland to date with work on an additional 9 schools added in 2021 underway. 2022 will see six additional schools undergoing deep retrofit to a Building Energy Rating (BER) of B with renewable heating systems. Each school undergoes a comprehensive assessment to ensure that the measures are suitable for that school and will deliver value to both the school and learnings for the national retrofit programme.
The pathfinder programme builds on significant investment by the Department of Education in energy efficiency through the 2009/10 Cavity and Attic Insulation/Water Conservation Scheme and ongoing Summer Works and refurbishment projects.
The upgrades target a Building Energy Rating of B, 50% energy efficiency improvement and 50% emissions reduction. The works typically involves upgrades to the building fabric including wall and roof insulation, doors and windows, air tightness improvements, LED lighting and heating upgrades as well as renewable technologies.
The general principles and approach to school selection include schools meeting Energy Monitoring and Reporting requirements and demonstrating a strong and holistic commitment to energy management practices through participation in the Energy in Education Programme. The programme selection also seeks to enable various cross sections of school types and sizes, energy consumption profiles and different elements of construction type and heritage/ conservation requirements where specific learnings are being targeted. The pathfinder programme is thus delivered on broad assessment in line with the above considerations and not on an invitation basis.
101. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills when additional schools will be able to seek DEIS status; if there is flexibility to allow schools DEIS status in certain circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57219/21]
170. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the work of the DEIS technical group; if schools will be able to seek DEIS status for 2022 given the funding was made available in Budget 2022 to expand same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57218/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 101, 126 and 170 together.
Budget 2022 has provided for an allocation of €18million for 2022 and €32million for 2023 to extend the DEIS programme to further schools with the highest levels of disadvantage. This represents an increase of over 20% in funding for the DEIS programme and will enable an expansion in 2022 of the programme to further schools.
This package follows an extensive body of work which has been under taken by the DEIS technical group in relation to the development of a model to identify the concentrated levels of disadvantage of schools. The refined model is an objective, statistics based process, based on school enrolment data and data available from Census 2016 under the HP Deprivation Index.
This work involved an initial process of consultation by my Department with the education partners on the technical aspects of the model. Over the coming weeks, there will be further consultation with relevant stakeholders to outline the components of the model. The purpose is to ensure that, as far as possible, the refined DEIS identification model can provide an objective and independent means of identifying schools serving high concentrations of pupils at risk of educational disadvantage and also to ensure there is a full understanding of the refined model and its potential application.