Education Environment News

Schools Energy Retrofit Pathfinder Programme for 2022 Launched

The Minister for Education, Norma Foley, and the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, have launched a €28 million Schools Energy Retrofit Pathfinder programme that will demonstrate the approach to deep retrofit in the schools’ sector, testing energy efficiency solutions and renewable heat technology.

This government-funded energy retrofit pathfinder programme will target energy use and carbon dioxide emission reduction by 51%, testing deep retrofit and low carbon heating solutions. This 2022 programme will see 5 schools benefiting from a selection of energy efficiency works.

It is jointly funded with a €28 million budget from the Department of Education and Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Planning and Building Unit in the Department of Education with support from Limerick Clare ETB.

Minister Foley said, “this programme continues to assist the department to identify and test solutions for decarbonised energy efficiency solutions in our schools and to support delivery of the new Climate Action Plan. It is enormously beneficial for the education sector and is paving the way for, and informing, a much larger national schools’ programme for the energy retrofit of schools built prior to 2008 as included in the National Development Plan.”

“This collaborative programme is facilitating research on a range of typical retrofit options, that has proven the robustness and scalability of renewable solutions within the schools’ sector.”

Minister Ryan said, “the Schools Pathfinder programme continues to be highly successful in testing retrofit and decarbonisation solutions in schools across the county. The upgrades to these older and inefficient buildings are reducing schools’ energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The upgrades also result in significant savings on energy costs. Young people have been pathfinders in their calls for climate action. I’m delighted that we are demonstrating what can be done in a practical way in our schools, which are at the heart of our communities.”

CEO of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, William Walsh said, “SEAI continues to support schools with energy efficiency through student workshops, resources (more than 50,000 students per annum) and energy management (1000 schools to date). This allows them to report energy data through our monitoring and reporting system (2,807 schools reporting in 2021).”

“During 2021 we are progressing with the deep retrofit and installation of renewable heat in 9 schools, and we plan to continue this work with the 6 schools identified for 2022. The pathfinder programme is providing a template for large scale retrofit of all schools in Ireland, which will be required to help Ireland meet its ambitious national targets.”

The pathfinder programme has retrofitted 41 schools across Ireland to date with work on an additional 9 schools added in 2021 underway. 2022 will see six additional schools undergoing deep retrofit to a Building Energy Rating (BER) of B with renewable heating systems. Each school undergoes a comprehensive assessment to ensure that the measures are suitable for that school and will deliver value to both the school and learnings for the national retrofit programme.

The schools for 2022 present a variety of challenges, including building age, archetype and retrofit requirements.

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