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Ministers Foley and Smyth launch next phase of school retrofitting programme

Ministers Foley and Smyth launch next phase of school retrofitting programme

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications Ossian Smyth TD today launched the next phase of the school retrofitting pathfinder programme.  

Up to 14 schools will be retrofitted and upgraded to a Building Energy Rating (BER) of B with renewable heating to reduce their CO2 emissions by 51 per cent.   

There is a targeted budget of €50 million for this new phase of the Schools Energy Retrofit Pathfinder Programme. It is being jointly funded by the Department of Education and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. The programme will be administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Department of Education, with delivery support from Longford and Westmeath Education and Training Board (LWETB).  

Around €110 million has already been spent to date retrofitting 53 schools across Ireland under the Pathfinder Programme since 2017, with work on another 11 schools currently at various stages of progress.  

Education Minister Foley said the programme was helping to test solutions for reducing emissions in a broad range of different school buildings.  

“I look forward to seeing up to 14 more schools around the country benefitting through the next phase of this Programme.”     

“It is really positive to see the results of good collaboration and teamwork and hear the great feedback from the school principals, teachers, pupils and parents whose schools have benefited from previous investments under the Pathfinder Programme.    

“These benefits include improved energy performance, a more comfortable teaching and learning environment, and upgraded spaces beyond the expectations of the schools. 

“It is paving the way for, and informing, a much larger schools decarbonisation programme, focusing on schools built prior to 2008, as envisaged in the National Development Plan.”                                                                         

Minster Smyth said:

“SEAI and the Department of Education have been doing fantastic work since 2017 retrofitting schools under the Pathfinder Programme. I’m delighted to see another 14 schools benefitting.  The programme means far more than reducing energy bills and carbon emissions. I’d highly recommend watching the excellent video in which pupils, parents, teachers and principals outline what it has meant for them.” 

CEO of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, William Walsh said: 

“SEAI are delighted to continue support to the Department of Education through the SEAI Pathfinder Programme. Through this programme SEAI is working with the public sector largest energy users to initiate, test solutions and provide capital support for flagship projects to develop necessary insights on strategic, technical, supply-chain, and financial challenges to deliver public sector targets. The Department of Education has been a leader in this work and this announcement reinforces commitment to climate action by the public sector.” 

The Pathfinder Programme has already led to the retrofitting of different types of schools in 19 counties. The new phase of the programme will cover schools in the remaining seven counties in the country that had not previously featured in the pathfinder programme.  

The schools for 2024 present a variety of challenges, including building age, archetype and retrofit requirements. The works typically involves upgrades to the building fabric including wall and roof insulation, doors and windows, air tightness improvements, LED lighting and heating upgrades as well as renewable technologies.