Three exemplar schools to counter criticisim that programme fails to meet sustainability targets

The government is attempting to counter criticism that its £45bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme is not green by commissioning three exemplary schools.

The schools, which are within the BSF One School Pathfinder programme, will be held up by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) as models of sustainability.

They are Bideford College in Devon, Richmond school in North Yorkshire and Queen Elizabeth School in Dorset. Devon Property is designing the Bideford facility and Atkins is designing Richmond. Each has been set different carbon standards, ranging from zero carbon to a 20% reduction in carbon emissions.

Earlier this year, Sir Neville Simms, a former chairman of Carillion and present chair of the Sustainable Procurement Taskforce, pointed to the school building programme as an example of where the government had consistently failed to meet sustainability targets.

Consultants involved in the exemplars have expressed doubts about whether they are receiving enough funding to be truly sustainable.

One said: “Each school has been given £2m extra funding to become an exemplar sustainable school but figures that we handed in to the DfES showed we needed close to £5m.”

Another source working on an exemplar school said the schemes had been chosen because they had a fast build programme, allowing the government “quick wins”. The source said: “These projects will be completed within two or three years. That’s definitely a bonus for the DfES.”

Last week, the government launched a book of BSF case studies, focused on sustainability. They showed that energy usage within schools was much higher than predicted, because of extra IT and extended opening hours.

Ty Goddard, director of the British Council for School Environments, said he welcomed the government’s drive on sustainability.