Dáil Éireann - Volume 653 - 24 April, 2008
Written Answers. - Departmental Programmes.
Deputy Joanna Tuffy Deputy Joanna Tuffy
Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools taking part in the green schools programme; the improvements to the school buildings this programme has involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15825/08]
Deputy Mary Hanafin Deputy Mary Hanafin
Deputy Mary Hanafin:Green-Schools is an international environmental education programme, designed to promote and acknowledge whole-school action to care for the environment. It is both a programme and an award scheme. Green-Schools in Ireland is operated and co-ordinated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce. The programme complements the formal curricula in Social, Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) at primary level and the Science and Geography curricula at post-primary level by demonstrating the application of an eco-friendly approach to environmental issues in the school context. This process increases students’ awareness of the importance of environmental issues so that it is more likely that they will become environmentally aware in their personal and home lives. Over 2,800 primary, secondary and special schools in Ireland are currently taking part in the programme and over 1,250 have been awarded the Green Flag.
With respect to energy programmes that would complement environmental work currently taking place under the green flags initiative for the past nine years the Planning and Building  Unit within my Department have been using a process called the DART approach (Design, Awareness, Research, and Technology) to develop sustainable and energy efficiency in educational buildings. The policy is driven by technical guidance documents, informed by building unit professional and technical staff, external partnerships and updated by continued energy research and development.
The guidelines encourage the design team to take a complete design team approach from project conception. The incorporation of low energy design has been done on a hybrid basis by maximising natural resources and utilising technologies. This involves focusing on areas such as natural ventilation, passive solar design, day lighting and reducing infiltration, enhanced insulation, lighting and heating controls and water efficiency. This has proven quite successful with modern day schools typically using three times less energy than schools built ten years ago and also using less than half the energy than what is termed as good international practice for schools.
An information package is currently being prepared for schools on the most appropriate measures to minimise excess consumption of water and to reduce wastage where it exists. As part of this exercise, technical guidance and specifications for the most common problems that are likely to arise in this area will be provided. The demand for water in schools must be minimised firstly through push type spray taps, low flushing toilets, urinal controls, repairing leaks, etc, then the potential for rainwater harvesting can be maximised by reducing the amount of mains water used to flush toilets.
Dáil Éireann 653 Written Answers. Departmental Programmes.