Sustainable Schools: Beyond Measure ?




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


This PhD research project has examined four newly built secondary schools in Leicester, England that were procured through the UK Government’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme (2003-2010).

The research strategy has adopted a mixed-methods approach using a range of quantitative and qualitative data. The principle aim was to establish a theoretical framework for Sustainable Development which could then help to shape the analysis. Five specific dimensions were identified as a result of an extensive literature review (Education [A], Community [B], Environment [C], Technology [D] and Economics [E]). It was also important to consider the dynamic nature of a school in relation to the study’s overarching question; ‘Sustainable Schools; Beyond Measure?’ In this regard, a “systems” approach was selected, which in turn led to the identification of three further levels of analysis (Inputs [1], Processes [2] and Outcomes [3]).

Five objectives were then identified, helping to instruct the direction of the research activities. Firstly, the BSF procurement mechanism had to identify a private sector partner to rebuild the 16 secondary schools in Leicester over a 10 year period. This was time consuming and did not include energy efficiency as part of the selection process. Secondly, the commissioning of the four phase one buildings prior to occupancy was not sufficiently thorough. As a result, multiple operational problems were encountered post-occupancy by the Facility Management (FM) Provider. Thirdly, when the utility data was examined, the schools were not performing efficiently around their schedule of activities. When the Building Management Systems (BMS) were subsequently re-commissioned, timer settings were adjusted, resulting in substantial carbon and energy savings. Fourthly, when the staff completed an occupancy satisfaction survey, the results identified numerous comfort problems which could be linked to the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC). Finally, when the researcher looked back at the past 10 years of educational statistics (2002-2012), it was clear how attainment, based on GCSE results, had dramatically improved following the move into the new buildings in September 2009.

In order to draw out new insights from this wide spectrum of data, a matrix was developed, helping to organise the information in a systematic way. More generally, it is hoped this approach will promote a more intricate understanding about the way Sustainable Development can be integrated into future procurement mechanisms, building regulations and education policy.



Post-occupancy Evaluation, POE, Education, Commissioning, Energy Efficiency, School Buildings



Research Institute