Published Wednesday 17th April 2019

The global climate is an issue that has been at the forefront of all industries, particularly over the last 12 months. Warnings about the effects of certain materials and practices on the environment are beginning to shape many future decisions, but the truth is that many of these issues have been present for decades previous.

Inner city pollution is one such topic that has caused many issues without resolution. However, recent events have once again brought this to the forefront of society. Research into the effect such conditions can have on a child’s development has seen this become not only an issue for governments but also for individual schools, who need to be seen to take action against conditions widely out of their control.

The Issue of Pollution in Schools

A report published by Public Health England in March suggested that air pollution remained the biggest environmental threat to people in the UK, contributing to between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths every year. It is worth noting that air pollution is a global issue, but there are stats to suggest the UK is behind on certain aspects, particularly concerning children and schools. The UK has one of the highest prevalence rates in the world for asthma amongst children, according to Asthma UK, with one in 11 having the condition. Meanwhile, research in 2016 showed that over 400 primary schools in London were exposed to nitrogen dioxide levels in breach of EU legal limits, a number that rises beyond 800 once other educational institutions are considered.

As mentioned previously, there have been efforts at a government level to try and improve on these statistics. One of the most notable recent developments has been in London with the introduction of an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone, designed to help clean the city’s air where it is at its worse. This is one of many steps by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, with the target of no schools in the capital city being subject to illegally high levels of air pollution by 2025.

There is a noticeable desire from all stakeholders to see the situation improve. An example of this is a recent teacher survey across the UK, which found that 63% would support a ban on vehicles outside school gates at the beginning and end of the day. However, long term changes will take time to deliver effective results, which is why many organisations are looking internally at ways to improve air quality inside individual schools.

What Schools Can Do About Air Pollution

There are many things that schools can do to improve the air quality at their facilities, both internally and externally, with many schools adopting a combination of infrastructure and behaviour. Many establishments are widely tackling the aforementioned engine idling, whilst other simple measures such as green pollution barriers – the installation of hedges and other plants designed to shield schools from external pollutants – are helping to make a difference. However, more noticeable changes in air quality will likely require significant infrastructure investments.

One of the primary areas of investment by schools seeking to improve air quality has been in ventilation. Recent updates to the UK Government’s Building Bulletin 101 (BB101, 2018) have lowered the expected CO2 levels for mechanically-ventilated buildings and schools, putting more emphasis on this method as opposed to natural solutions. This will, hopefully, lead to many more schools with the correct infrastructure to ensure appropriate air quality for all children. However, the capital required for such developments could prove hard to come by for institutions, especially with many schools seeing a continued lack of funding.

At ERA, we offer a range of school cost reduction services that can help to take the pressure of public institutions. We offer a risk-free plan, in which your education institution only pays when we begin delivering savings, and even then, the money only comes out of what you would have been spending before. This makes our offer particularly popular with a range of schools, including MATs. Our cost-saving experts have a wealth of experience in the industry, so if you are looking to free up capital in your school, why not speak to our friendly team about your options today?