There was an architect, an engineer, an energy manager, ...

Posted in: Talks and Presentations

... and me.

We all met at Bristol's Create Centre last week as part of a panel to discuss the idea of the sustainable school from the perspective of building design, construction and operation.  This was part of the Bristol Architecture Centre's Spring Green programme which extends into the summer through a number of varied events.

We each contributed 10 minutes of thoughts from our veery different perspectives, and this was followed by 75 minutes of discussion with the audience.  All in all, a well put together evening, I felt, and I certainly gained new perspectives on BSF and BREEAM, and on what could be achieved in a new-build school.  There was a gloomy view about the future of new builds following the dispiriting James Report [which I have blogged on previously].  Not quite back to the 60s (some standards have improved over time), but not building on the very best we can aspire to and achieve, either.  What a crying shame that such stunted vision has now come to the fore.

I should say that everyone's powerpoint slides except mine were full of nice pictures of fine schools and colourful, sweeping graphs — but they weren't all sweeping in the right direction: a lot of the electricity usage graph gradients were positive rather than negative, for example, which is all very embarrassing, and some new builds had worse energy performances than somewhat older ones.  Well, here's what I had: only one slide which tried to provide a critical summary of  the experience of the sustainable schools initiative in 7 easy points:

The positives …                                          But …

1  An atmosphere of permission                there has been no coherence across government departments

2  Language that resonated                        the doorway metaphor was too limited to carry the burden expected of it

3  Strong vision; useful guidance              there was a focus on parts, not the whole

4  No prescription, targets, or funding    the evaluative criteria were useless for what was needed

5  An emphasis on learning & change    this was too individually-focused, at the expense of the social

6  Strong agency support                              there was too much focus on behaviour

7  The idea of a sustainable school           what does it mean?


Posted in: Talks and Presentations


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