Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (346, 347)

Jim Daly

Question:

346. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a policy exists within the school buildings unit regarding the provision of rain water harvesting systems in new school builds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8773/13]

View answer

Jim Daly

Question:

347. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has carried out any research and or cost benefit analysis in any school here using a rain water harvesting system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8774/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 346 and 347 together.

A number of test projects, the first in 2004 were completed to establish the opportunity and associated issues with the use of rainwater recovery systems in schools. Following the evaluation of these schemes, rain water harvesting systems were introduced for major school building projects in 2008. Since then all major school building projects, where site conditions and circumstances allow and where economically viable to do so, can incorporate a rainwater harvesting system into their brief.

While fitting the systems in new schools during construction is relatively straightforward, retrofitting them in existing schools is much more difficult and expensive because of the various dedicated pipe work systems both within the building and externally underground and the amount of making good work that is required in each instance.

For existing buildings it is more cost effective to minimise the demand for water firstly through installing measures to reduce water usage such as push type spray taps, low flushing toilets, urinal controls, repairing leaks etc. To this end, as part of the Summer Works Scheme 2010, schools were invited to apply for Water Conservation measures. A list of schools whose applications under this scheme were successful is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

In terms of research my Department is at the forefront of design with respect to sustainable energy efficiency (including water conservation and efficiency) 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.

The overall Energy Research Programme won a Taoiseach Public Service Excellence Award in 2008. My Department won the Energy Sustainability in the Built Environment Award for 2012 for Coláiste Choilm, Tullamore, at the SEAI Sustainable Energy Awards 2012. My Department also won the Green Building of the Year award at the Green Awards 2012 and the Overall Green Award, based on the same project and for my Department's continued work in developing low energy sustainable schools.

The Department's Technical Guidance Documents set the benchmark for sustainable design in school buildings with a clear focus on energy efficiency and they are based on solid energy research projects. The Department's policy is supported by a strong research programme with forty research projects at various stages including its energy website at www.energyineducation.ie.

Schools that are designed and built in accordance with the Department's schools technical guidance documents must achieve an A3 Building Energy Rating and are capable of being more than twice as energy efficient that schools built to best International Practice.