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Sustainability begins at school – and with contractors, says Morrell

3 February 2010

Zero-carbon eco-schools are to be rolled out across England under plans published by the Zero Carbon Task Force, according to a report in Building. The initial pilot will see 36 model schools built, with four new zero-carbon schools for every one of the nine English regions.

The final report of the Task Force, chaired by CABE Commissioner Robin Nicholson, was launched on Thursday by secretary of state for children, families and schools Ed Balls.

Tackling concerns about cost head-on, Balls said: “The independent experts from the Zero Carbon Task Force tell me that although current technology makes building zero-carbon schools expensive and challenging, we have a clear moral responsibility to future generations to get as close as we can to that aspiration – it would be a dereliction of duty if we didn’t.”

The government also announced that every school in England will be fitted with a display meter to measure energy use, under a £12m initiative which will be managed by schools delivery agency Partnerships for Schools.

Building also reported that the schools estate in England contributes around 15 % of the country’s public sector emissions. Energy use in school buildings accounts for 37 % of this – a total of 3.5 m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Construction News, the government's chief construction advisor Paul Morrell highlighted the role contractors can play in co-ordinating carbon reduction.

Morrell, who is leading the government-commissioned Low Carbon Construction Review, said that it was contractors who had “the skills and ability to integrate the whole process”. “Contractors are the natural integrators. They have to bring the whole process together,” he said.

He went onto say that the industry’s response would be driven by the recognition of a huge potential market. “That’s what gets any business up in the morning,” he said.

Construction News also reported earlier comments by Morrell in The Times, in which he suggested that buildings from the 60s and 70s may need to be torn down to meet emissions targets.

“The buildings that pose the most difficulties are semi-industrialised, highly inefficient, badly insulated and so ugly they are not worth refurbishing,” he said.

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