The London Diocesan Board for Schools (LDBS) was one of the first diocesan organizations to formalize its response to environmental challenges, with a report on the environmental responsibilities of church schools in 1994.
Church of England Schools take environmental issues seriously. Seventy-six of the Diocese’s 149 schools are registered with Eco-schools - 51%. Forty-six have achieved Bronze or Silver Awards, or Flags of different grades, including Hackney Free & Parochial School which achieved its 4th Green Flag in 2008.
Within the Diocesan Religious Education Scheme, primary schools spend one term on relating the environment to God’s World. Many schools have whole school initiatives on the environment, which often involve school councils and the children leading environmental awareness projects with practical outcomes such as savings on water, paper and electricity. Many schools, including inner-city schools, have gardens, so that children can be introduced to eating food grown, harvested and cooked by them.
Schools, above the threshold size, display Display Energy Certificates (DECs). The current estimate of total carbon footprint for the stock is under review.
When capital is available, energy efficient boilers, new windows etc are installed. Replacement of boilers with modern efficient systems tends to be re-active rather than pro-active; governors tend to consider that the refurbishment of toilets is a greater priority. Rainwater harvesting is another popular objective but grants are not always available.
St Mary’s Primary School in Finchley was the first Diocesan School to install photovoltaic panels, commissioned during 2010. This project benefited from a Low Carbon Buildings Programme grant. There is widespread ambition to install solar panels – though since the introduction of the Feed-in Tariff, capital has to be raised by the building owner; this constrains schools in the absence of other grants and with restrictions on borrowing.
BRE Environmental and Sustainable Standard (BREEAM) "Very Good" is commonly achieved for new schools. Recent new buildings have included ground source heat pumps, though teething problems have been experienced.
We are currently involved with Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) in an environmental initiative ‘Seeds of Unity’, which is developing Religious Education teaching materials for use in schools across the world.
Updated: May 2011