18 July 2008 | Jake Kanter
Purchasing must play a key role in halving the carbon emissions of English schools.
A study carried out by the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) showed school supply chain activity, including buying paper and construction projects, contributed to 42 per cent of the sector's total 8.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2004, which are the most recent figures available.
The review was commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families in a bid to gauge the environmental impact of schools and help them tackle climate change.
The education sector is aiming to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. Although measures including sustainable purchasing are already in place, the study said if schools continue with "business as usual", they would only cut emissions by 10 per cent or less in the next 12 years.
The SDC recommended schools buy more recycled paper and more durable furniture, while also introducing water efficiency standards on premises. It added recycled materials and energy efficient measures should be used on construction sites.
Ann Finlayson, education commissioner for the SDC, said reaching the 2020 target would not be easy and bold action must be taken. "The support of a range of professionals from local authorities, transport and town planning and procurement will all be crucial."