Blackrock College

Blackrock College is based in Blackrock, Co. Dublin and was awarded the Green Flag for Water in 2015. This large secondary school presently has 90 teachers and 1004 students in attendance.

Step 1: Green-Schools Committee

Their Green-Schools committee consists of students from second to sixth year, the school secretary, the deputy principal, representatives from the housekeeping and maintenance departments and parents. Each year announcements are made at assemblies inviting interested students to contact the Green-Schools Coordinator. CSPE class teachers also help recruit members as their subject has a strong link with Green-Schools issues. The coordinator invites teachers, parents, school management and non academic departments to join the committee. The Green-Schools committee meets once a week and communication is by email, meetings, submissions, notice boards and social media.

Step 2: Environmental Review

The school carried out the essential actions required of the Water theme: read the school water meter, conducted a manual water audit and conducted leak tests, as well as many recommended actions. For example, the school conducted a water use survey, investigated the water lifecycle of the school, located local water bodies, investigated rainwater harvesting and located nearby Blue Flag beaches/marinas.

Students took part in a school wide water review every four to six weeks, noting problem areas, areas of high water consumption and areas that need to be modernised in order to decrease the level of water wasted. After each survey, any problems encountered were passed onto maintenance staff and quickly dealt with.

Some results from the review are:

  • They found they were not allowed access to survey the kitchen because the school rent that out to a private company which looks after the catering for the college
  • They found that three of the old, dated taps in the third year’s W.C’s were either leaking or were not functioning at all
  • They found that their urinals are on automated timers and that some of their taps, toilets and urinals also work on a proximity sensor control, which means they only comes on when a hand glides over the sensor
  • They found that some toilets and taps in the 1970s building were still operating manually and that these manual systems are more likely to leak

Step 3: Action Plan

Some of the actions carried out by Blackrock College on the water theme include:

  • The school carried out a number of environmental awareness weeks and the TY students ran a water awareness campaign
  • They set up an environmental news team that provided the school with updates on their Green-Schools programme
  • The committee carried out a Survey of Student Awareness / Attitudes to Water Conservation and other environmental issues
  • The committee carried out various water audits and kept records of water usage
  • The school investigated the potential of having their own water supply. The investigation showed that they could have a well that is capable of a sustainable yield of significant proportions and through water testing they discovered it is of good quality. They are carrying out further tests to establish if the water can be used as a potable supply and are currently awaiting planning permission
  • They invited guest speaker Dr Cara Augustenburg, a lecturer from UCD and Ireland’s first Climate Leader trained as part of Al Gore’s Climate Leadership Corps, to give a talk to 2nd Year students
  • The Green-Schools committee ran a publicity campaign throughout the duration of the water theme
  • The 5th year committee members ran a Blue Day to raise awareness about water and to fund raise for a water charity in Brazil
  • Committee representative attended the Green-Schools water forum held in Belvedere College
  • They created a giant poster of their water mascot which was displayed in the school
  • TV monitors were used to show presentation on water conservation
  • The school has carried out various water initiatives:
  • Added devices like lower capacity cisterns on WC’s. This is to lower the amount of water held in the basin of the toilets
  • Twin flush controls have been put in place. This allows the WC user to flush a lower level of water
  • On our taps, water aerators/flow inhibitors have been installed to limit the amount of water that flows from them
  • They have a rainwater harvester in place that provides 75,000 litres annually which is used for flushing WC’s, urinals, irrigation and general purposes. The school is planning to double the amount of water captured in the next 2-3 years with the installation of more tanks

Step 4: Monitoring and Evaluation

The school monitors and evaluates their Green-Schools programme through the following processes:

  • They carried out various water audits on their premises
  • Carried out leak surveys and kept records of their water usage
  • All results were posted on their Green-Schools notice board
  • The principle evaluation tool was their survey which was administered during the final term. It was an electronic survey they carried out using Survey Monkey which they found to be a very efficient survey delivery and analysis system. They also noted the additional advantage of being environmentally friendly as it is paperless
  • The second evaluation tool they used was a presentation / quiz given to 2nd and 3rd year CSPE classes by 5th year members of the committee. It involved a short PowerPoint presentation followed by a short quiz with prizes of Green-Schools merchandise. They focused on the aforementioned years as the committee felt that they are important years as their attitudes and behaviour will have a huge impact on school environmental issues such as recycling, energy conservation, litter and water conservation for a number of years

They also maintain and monitor previous themes through for example:

  • Using the school monitors to remind members of the school community about the need to reduce, reuse, recycle and respect (this latter R is about litter)
  • High profile notices and widespread use of yellow bins for recycling are used to remind everyone of the need to recycle
  • Committee members speak regularly at assemblies and have the full support of the deans (Year Heads) in promoting the Green message
  • The committee also work closely with the housekeeping department and publish the recycling figures from their waste company
  • The College maintenance department works with the committee to reduce energy use and is actively pursuing a programme which more efficiently manages device use

Step 5: Curriculum Links

Some examples of the schools curriculum links include:

Subject Class Group Environmental Topic
Geography TY Water related articles in Greenwatch magazine
English Junior Cycle Fracking PowerPoint presentation and Word of the Week
Science Club
  • 1st Year Willow Park
  • 2nd Year College
Physical & Chemical Properties of Water
Art 5th Year
  • Design of Williamstown
  • Water Logo
Model United Nations 5th and 6th Year Smog in Tehran and Fracking
Debating 5th and 6th Yr Debaters

Whole School Audience

  • Water Charges
  • Vegetarians & Environment
Biology TY Dendrochronology Project
  • 2nd Year and TY
  • Talk to each year
Guest Speaker Eamon Ryan
CSPE 3rd Year JC Project Work on Green Issues
Economics TY Study of Water Charges from an economic viewpoint
Economics 6th Year Macro economic implications of water tax


Step 6: Informing and Involving

The school informed and involved the whole school and local community in many different ways. For example:

  • The school held a water awareness week that involved a wide variety of events. Highlights of the week included guest speaker Mr Eamon Ryan (Green Party), who spoke to 2nd Year and Transition Year groups about the issue of water charges, participation in a Green-Schools Water Forum hosted by Belvedere College, an entertaining debate on the motion ‘This house would become vegetarian to save the environment’, Blue Day in 6th Year to raise awareness and collect donations for the work of Fr Pat McNamara in Brazil and a series of environmental workshops facilitated by Ms Emily Robyn Archer of Cre8 Sustainability. The events and activities in which the whole school was involved are listed below:
  • Water Forum in Belvedere College
  • Guest Speaker Mr Eamon Ryan
  • Debate between Green Schools Committee and the Debating Society
  • Environmental Workshops on water and biodiversity
  • Blue Day in 6th Year (awareness and water charity fund raising)
  • CSPE Projects
  • Model United Nations (MUN) Projects
  • Displays on St Patrick’s Hall
  • TV Monitors Presentation on water conservation
  • Presentations at 3rd and 6th Year assemblies
  • Dendrochronology display
  • Word of the Week featured a water related word Fracking
  • Water Mascot
  • They also inform the whole school and wider community through:
  • Committee members from each year group promoting the programme
  • Regular presentations at assemblies
  • Displays throughout the school with St Patrick’s Hall the main exhibition location
  • School TV Information Monitors
  • Lunchtime debates
  • Green-Schools notice boards
  • Guest Speakers
  • Newsletters to parents

Step 7: Green Code

The school’s Green Code for Water was agreed by 2013/14 committee under the direction of Ms Clare. It is in the form of an acronym based on water as it was felt it would catch people’s attention. The water code is displayed at every water use point throughout the school.

Wait until night to water your lawn

Always use a pail when you wash your car

Turn off the faucet when you brush

Every leak wastes water – fix it

Rain barrels save water

Subscribe to our newsletter


* indicates required
  • Word or phrase

  • Area