Dáil Éireann - Volume 642 - 04 December, 2007
Written Answers. - Departmental Properties.
Deputy Damien English Deputy Damien English
Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Education and Science the works or measures that have taken place in 2007 to make her Departmental buildings more environmentally friendly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32392/07]
Deputy Mary Hanafin Deputy Mary Hanafin
Deputy Mary Hanafin: Energy saving lighting (using passive infra red fittings) has been installed in my Department’s Athlone offices. The OPW are to investigate the suitability of using these fittings in the Dublin and Tullamore offices. Long life CFL lamps (energy efficient lighting) are used throughout my Department’s offices where light fittings are suitable. In addition my Department has recently re-tendered for the provision of an expanded recycling service covering the confidential destruction and recycling of office waste paper, newspaper, cardboard, glass bottles, aluminium cans, plastics, wood and electrical items in respect of my Athlone, Dublin and Tullamore offices. All Regional, NEPS and Inspectors’ Offices have local arrangements in place for the  recycling of paper, etc. The amounts here are not substantial and would be uneconomical to include in my Department’s recycling contract.
My Department is reviewing renewable options for energy generation in schools through a number of research projects including, Tory wind turbine project, Interreg solar hot water heating projects and Biomass wood pellet / wood chip boiler and solar projects. The Tory Island project involves the supply and installation of two wind turbines to provide electrical energy to serve the existing community facility and Vocational School situated on Tory Island.
My Department would encourage schools to consider the use of wind generated electricity which is available nationally through the National Grid. This in effect allows the school to benefit from the environmental and lower cost benefits of wind generated electricity without being exposed to operating and maintenance issues and reliability of supply.
With respect to energy programmes that would complement environmental work currently taking place under the green flags initiative for the past nine years the Planning and Building Unit within my Department have been using a process called the DART approach (Design, Awareness, Research, and Technology) to develop sustainable and energy efficiency in educational buildings. The policy is driven by technical guidance documents, informed by building unit professional and technical staff, external partnerships and updated by continued energy research and development.
Rather than develop a unique focus on energy design my Department has taken a more holistic approach and have developed their technical guidance on energy efficiency in school designs as an integral part of the suite of technical guidance documents. These guidelines encourage the design team to take a complete design team approach from project conception.
The incorporation of low energy design has been done on a hybrid basis by maximising natural resources and utilising technologies. This involves focusing on areas such as natural ventilation, passive solar design, day lighting and reducing infiltration, enhanced insulation, lighting and heating controls and water efficiency.
The focus to date on sustainability in schools has been to reduce the energy demand in schools. This has proven quite successful with modern day schools typically using three times less energy than schools built ten years ago and also using less than half the energy than what is termed as good international practice for schools.
Dáil Éireann 642 Written Answers. Departmental Properties.