I wish to advise the Deputy that rainwater harvesting systems were first 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 accommodation 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.
I also wish to inform the Deputy that 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 schools were invited in 2010 to apply for Water Conservation measures and funding of almost €10m was made available to promote water conservation measures as part of this initiative.
In respect of the provision of solar panels and other energy saving features, there is a dedicated website which is a partnership initiative between the SEAI and my Department www.energyineducation.ie, that provides detailed advice and guidelines. In respect of Solar power for hot water generation, it is not considered an optimum design solution for schools due to the school's operating profile (closed during summer months mid terms etc, short days and closed at weekend), and the minimal and irregular hot water demand.