Previous government’s green schools adviser voices concern over move to drop BREEAM standard

The previous government’s leading adviser on green schools has joined a growing chorus of opposition to moves by the Department for Education to drop sustainability requirements on new schools.

Robin Nicholson, chairman of the previous government’s Zero Carbon Schools Task Force, has written to education secretary Michael Gove urging the government not to not scrap BREEAM requirements on schools - a move Building understands is being considered by the Department for Education.

His intervention follows a similar joint-letter from Paul King, UK Green Building Council chief executive and Peter Young, Aldersgate Group chairman, to ministers this week.

Nicholson said that while “few would defend to the last letter” the BREEAM regime was “far from being a major burden”.

He called for the government to reconvene a meeting of the Zero Carbon Schools Task Force “so we can explain to you and your officials how Energy and Carbon Savings can be made at little or no additional cost to prepare your estate for a more sustainable future”.

He added: “The construction industry has responded pretty well to [the BREEAM] challenge, as it usually does…BREEAM Excellent has delivered significant carbon savings at next to no cost.

“So please do not abandon BREEAM until there has been a full review of its impact and the key elements relocated.”

The earlier letter from UK GBC and the Aldersgate Group, which was also copied to the prime minister, the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and five other cabinet ministers, said the move to drop the BREEAM requirement for schools was “deeply concerning” and would send a “terrible message” to the UK construction industry.

The Department for Education said it was still considering recommendations made in the James Review, which singled out the BREEAM regulations for criticism, citing the excessive burden of regulation and guidance in procurement and high costs for carrying out pre-assessment of BREEAM for schools.

“We will respond shortly,” a DfE spokesperson said.