The Zero Carbon Task Force has concluded that the challenges are too great to achieve the government's 2016 target for zero-carbon schools.
Too many technical, financial and social challenges stand in the way of the 2016 zero-carbon deadline for new schools, an influential report has concluded.
The final report of the Zero Carbon Task Force (ZCTF) cites the three to four year construction cycles for schools as being too long for all new schools to be zero-carbon in the time available. Some zero-carbon schools may be possible says the report, but these are only likely "in rural settings with access to renewables and in city centres where there are low carbon community energy schemes."
The 2016 target should be replaced by a series of step-changes towards zero carbon, says the report, beginning with a target of 10 kgCO2/m2 per annum for new schools from 2013 - a reduction of 80 percent on 2002 building standards.
The department for Children, Schools and Families established the Zero Carbon Task Force (ZCTF) to advise on how England can achieve the ambition for new school buildings to be zero carbon, and to develop a roadmap for implementation.
Among the report's 30 recommendations the ZCTF calls for the governent's delivery vehicle for new schools, Partnerships for Schools, to develop the role of the client design adviser as well as perform the role of funding agency. This should extend throughout the design and construction processes and into the operation of buildings, says the report.
The report also calls for four pilot zero-carbon schools to be operational in each government region before 2016 to show how zero carbon can be achieved.
Processes should also be introduced to ensure that energy and carbon are a priority from the inception through to the operation of school projects. The energy and carbon performance of schools should be monitored and published.
The report calls for "radically reduced requirements" for the energy and carbon performance of ICT services. This places responsibility with the BECTA - the government agency tasked with promoting information and communications technology - to develop a methodology to measure the actual energy performance of ICT service providers.
The ZCTF authors warn that achieving zero carbon for new build is just one part of the picture: "If DCSF's aim is to significantly reduce carbon emissions across the school sector and make progress towards carbon targets, then action will be required that affects all schools, not just new build."
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