Climate change measures for schools may cost up to €3bn

Government projects it will spend billions on ‘energy retrofit’ of schools to meet new rules

The Government has projected it will cost up to €3bn to carry out a ‘deep energy retrofit’ of schools over the next decade. File photograph: PA

The Government has projected it will cost up to €3bn to carry out a ‘deep energy retrofit’ of schools over the next decade. File photograph: PA

 

The Government has projected it will cost up to €3 billion to carry out a “deep energy retrofit” of schools over the next decade to help meet new climate change rules.

Internal Department of Education records show such a programme would involve “an element of refurbishment” across thousands of schools built prior to 2008.

Government and EU energy-efficiency and climate-change legislation will require upgrading of the energy performance of existing buildings over the next decade.

The 10-year National Development plan, published in February, commits to an energy upgrade of schools but does not provide a detailed breakdown of costs.

The plan provides an “indicative envelope of €2.5 billion” as part of a wider refurbishment programme for Ireland’s schools which also focuses on building PE halls and upgrading science laboratories.

Refurbishments

Latest figures indicate there are up to 575 school applications for major refurbishments which the department has not been able to prioritise.

The Irish Times reported on Monday that internal records dated last January stated that a “major backlog” of schools which needed to be upgraded could not be progressed with existing capital plans.

These plans are a reference to the current capital programme, which runs until 2021.

In response, the department said the €2.5 billion sum allocated for the refurbishment of schools under the National Development Plan – which runs until 2027 – will allow for the upgrading of schools.

However, an email from a senior official in the department – released under the Freedom of Information Act – indicates that many schools may end up waiting years for refurbishment works.

The email says the construction inflation and energy requirements for new buildings mean there is “some, but very limited scope” for an increased focus on refurbishment towards the end of the 10-year period.