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Sustainability Green Infrastructure

17 Oct 2023
Estates & Facilities Management Stage

Climate Resilient Schools in London
Holly Smith, Project Manager (Surface water flooding), Greater London Authority & Polly Turton, Environmental and Health Consultant, Arup

The Climate Resilient Schools (CRS) programme is a partnership between the Mayor of London, the Department for Education and Thames Water. The programme is engaging 101 schools in London with the highest exposure and vulnerability to climate risks, based on the London Climate Risk Maps, to build their resilience to a changing climate. The programme runs until 31 March 2023 and will deliver four workstreams:

  • SuDS rain planters: Installation of over 500 sustainable drainage (SuDS) rain planters to reduce surface water flood risk by collecting rainwater from roofs in the soil, rather than going directly into the drains. Planters also increase biodiversity, reduce heat risk and air pollution. As of February 2023, nearly 500 planters have been installed in 64 schools. Delivered by Delatim.
  • Climate Adaptation Plans: Development of bespoke plans for 60 of the 101 CRS schools, drawing on GLA guidance, ‘How Schools and Early Years Settings Can Adapt to Climate Change’. Plans have identified adaptation and resilience measures schools can implement to address overheating risk (e.g. playground shade structures), flood risk (e.g. SuDS) and water scarcity risk (e.g. water butts). Delivered by Arup.
  • Monitoring and education: Installation of soil-moisture sensors in SuDS rain planters and 30 weather stations on school roofs. These monitor data about water stored in the planters, and form part of a network of weather and climate data across London to record extreme weather patterns. Related educational resources are being produced. Delivered by AmbioTEK in partnership with King’s College London.
  • Smarter Business Visits: Thames Water’s free Smarter Business Visits address leaks and install water efficient fitting in schools e.g. tap restrictors, urinal sensors and converting single-flush toilets to dual-flush ones. These measures can potentially save 9,500 litres per day per school (equating to approximately £5,000 per year saving on water bills). Delivered by Thames Water.

The Unintended consequences of changing climate and decarbonisation on cognitive performance of school children
Dejan Mumovic, Professor of Building Performance Analysis | Director of UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, University College London

Children across all English schools face significant cognitive performance loss during non-heating seasons, both under current and future climates. The scale of the performance loss depends on specific climate regions and building construction age. Increased ventilation rates can effectively reduce cognitive performance loss, but their effectiveness will decrease over the future periods. Air conditioning may be more effective, but its energy penalty should be considered. By introducing a metric understood and appreciated by educationalists and policy makers, the unintended consequences of changing climate on the cognitive performance of children and increase in cooling loads could contribute to more holistic decision making on transition of English school building stock to net zero by 2050.


Meaghan Kombol, Sustainability Design Advisor for Green Infrastructure - Department for Education
Holly Smith, Project Manager (surface water flooding) - Greater London Authority
Dejan Mumovic, Professor of Building Performance Analysis | Director of UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering - University College London
Polly Turton, Environmental and Health Consultant - Arup



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