I propose to take Questions Nos. 509 to 511, inclusive, together.
The aim of the Energy Efficiency Pathfinder Programme for Schools is to pilot, explore, refine and evolve approaches to upgrade the energy efficiency of existing school buildings through retrofit. The project is a partnership between my Department, the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
A total of 16 schools were retrofitted during 2017 and 2018. This resulted in energy savings totalling 1.6 GWh and a CO2 reduction of 334 tonnes. At the local level, reductions in energy usage of 30% were achieved in some buildings with improvements to the learning environment and comfort also realised.
Lessons from the 2017-18 retrofits have enabled the project approach to be refined for 2019 including the introduction of a clustering model to improve efficiencies. This approach will apply to the 19 schools selected to participate in the initiative for 2019. Schools to be retrofitted for 2020 and subsequent years have not yet been selected. The number of schools that can be accommodated in the programme annually is determined by resourcing capacity available.
The selection criteria for the Programme are determined by SEAI in consultation with the Department of Education. The current criteria requires that schools: (i) participate in the Energy in Education training programme; (ii) comply with annual Monitoring and Reporting requirements; and (iii) are suitable in terms of building location, age, type, replicability and potential retrofit approaches.
The Programme will continue to develop and refine approaches to enable the scale up of retrofit works in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) capital funding programme. A total of €2.5bn is identified in the NDP for the refurbishment and construction of schools including a commitment to undertake a “deep energy retrofit of schools built prior to 2008”. The lessons from the Partnership Pathfinder Programme will inform the retrofit approach to be taken on this larger scale. The number of schools to benefit from the Energy Efficiency Programme for Schools as part of the major programme of retrofits scheduled to commence in 2022 will be a matter for the Department of Education.