To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the report of the National Audit Office entitled, Environmental Sustainability Overview: Department for Education, published on 28 June 2023, what steps she is taking to support schools that are not included in the School Rebuilding Programme to become net zero carbon in operation.
In November 2021, the Department published a new zero carbon and climate resilient specification, for use on all new and refurbished school and college buildings. As well as being used on the School Rebuilding Programme (SRP), the specification sets a wide range of performance and construction standards, including environmental above those required in building regulations. This includes design specifications so that buildings can be adapted for a 2°C rise in average global temperatures and future proofed for a 4°C rise, to adapt to the risks of climate change, including increased flooding and higher indoor temperatures. This is also available for use by responsible bodies and others who are encouraged to follow its minimum standards.
The Department is also currently testing a range of approaches to operating schools at zero carbon; improving energy efficiency, and resilience to the effects of climate change; as well as using ultra-low carbon construction methods, that can be used to retrofit existing buildings, including the replacement of high carbon intensity heat sources.
The Department works closely with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to help schools and colleges access the £1.4 billion Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which supports the aim of reducing emissions from public sector buildings by 75% by 2037. Information on the Scheme can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/public-sector-decarbonisation-scheme.
From October 2022, up to £635 million over the 2023/24 and 2024/25 financial years has been made available through Phase 3b of the scheme for installing low carbon heating and energy efficiency measures in public buildings.
Schools and those responsible for school buildings are also provided with guidance on sustainability, managing energy and water use and minimising waste in the Good Estate Management for Schools manual. This guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/good-estate-management-for-schools.