At least 60% of the energy for every new English secondary school to come from renewables

More than half the energy for every new secondary school in England will have to come from on-site renewable sources from next year.

Each school procured from 2008 will receive an extra £500,000 to help it generate a minimum of 60% of its energy from technologies such as biomass-fuelled boilers and wind turbines, the government said.

A proportion of the other 40% will be offset by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) in a drive to make all new schools low or zero carbon.

The government is to unveil its proposals in the next few weeks. They follow the announcement earlier this year that it would add £110m to the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme to fund low carbon schools.

But Bernard Doyle, a principal at Nightingale Associates, which specialises in education work, said the target would be unachievable on certain sites.

He said: “It is the right approach but on certain urban sites you don’t have enough room for biomass or enough wind for turbines. It would not be possible for some of the projects we are currently looking at.”

The news comes as a cross-party group of MPs called on the government to give more details on how schools would achieve carbon neutrality, as part of a report published yesterday.

The report, Sustainable Schools: Are We Building Schools for the Future? is not overtly critical of the £45bn BSF programme, despite its initial delays, but it does say that lack of clarity at the start of projects has been a significant risk factor.

It says: “The clearest message of all … is to take the time to get it right at the beginning and to maintain dialogue with the users of the building … rather than designing a striking building that does not meet the needs of its users as well as it should.”

The report added that:

  • There were risks in funding BSF through the PFI. It said repairs could become too expensive if pupil numbers fell.
  • Every finished school should undergo a post-occupancy review, which should be given the widest possible circulation.

It is understood that consultant Faithful + Gould is working with the DCSF on reducing carbon emissions from new schools.