Constructive ways to save the planet

29th November 1996 at 00:00
The damage being done to our planet by global warming is often irreparable, but knowing which measures to adopt to redress the balance is not always clear.

Buildings, apparently, play a large role in global warming. The Schools' Environmental Assessment Method is a comprehensive guide produced by the Department for Education and Employment, which aims to advise headteachers and governors how to ensure their school does not become a burden on the earth's natural resources.

It sets out guidelines for buildings. For a new design, the type of engineering services, construction materials and designated site should be taken into account. Old schools will not be able to match all the requirements but they can take action to improve them.

Some of SEAM's recommendations aim to improve the quality of the internal environment of schools, for example, by providing better air quality, adequate ventilation and optimum use of daylight and to encourage the use of building materials and products which do not pose a threat to non-renewable resources, such as the rain forests.

Environmental issues are examined, including recycling, energy management and school grounds. Recommendations for schools to follow are made for each category. If a school is already complying with these, it is awarded points. When a designated number of "ecopoints" are reached, a "certificate of achievement", which is included in the booklet, can be awarded for its contribution towards safeguarding the planet.

SEAM also explains the advantages of a school environmental policy. This is designed to encourage everyone within the school to take an interest in green issues and to learn more about how to husband and protect the Earth's natural resources.

SEAM costs Pounds 14.95 from the Stationery Office, Publications Centre, tel: 0171 873 9090

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