With increasing energy bills and the climate crisis impacting schools around the UK, four schools kicked off the new academic year by providing students with buildings which operate at net zero.
Earlier this year, Brookland Infant & Nursery School in north-west London, Broadfields Primary School in Edgware, Treetops Free School in Thurrock and Hart School in Staffordshire embarked on their net zero journeys with Net Zero Buildings.
The journey to net zero
Each of the four schools achieved an A+ rating for energy efficiency by integrating clean, lean and green technology:
- Clean technology uses local energy efficiently
- Lean processes use less energy and manage demand
- Green technology increases opportunities for renewable energy on-site – for example, photovoltaic and grey water technologies.
We supported each school’s individual design choices, from using lean measures, such as LED lights to decrease wasted heat energy, to generating green energy by installing solar panels on the roof of school buildings.
The solar panels, which were built into the school’s design, provide the school with a renewable energy source – lowering energy costs and offering the opportunity to make money to reinvest in the school, as additional energy can be sold back to the network.
The schools are also airtight and use various offsite construction solutions to ensure the buildings stay comfortable for staff and students during all weathers. This also lowers the amount of energy used to heat up the building.
Designed to support health and wellbeing
As well as supporting sustainability targets, the schools’ designs also help the health and wellbeing of staff and students.
Schools prioritising sustainability are more likely to understand and consider the natural world in the design, which can lead to the improvement of health and wellbeing. For example, the schools were encouraged to use as much natural daylight as possible to lower the amount of energy used to light the buildings.
Based on the location of the schools, we used innovative strategies for Brookland Infant & Nursery School and Hart School to ensure maximum daylight is able to enter the buildings.
Without a focus on net zero, this solar gain may not have been considered in the schools’ designs. The natural light is anticipated to improve more than just the schools’ sustainability, as it’s been proven to promote vitamin D generation, enhance mental performance and even improve exam grades for students.
Net zero buildings are also expected to provide students and staff with better air quality. These net zero schools have used mechanical ventilation heat recovery to reduce fuel bills with pre-heated air. This also improves the overall air quality, which can reduce symptoms for asthma and allergy sufferers.
Encouraging the next generation
Each school required something specific for their students.
For example, Treetops Free School needed a flexible space to support the needs of its SEN students, and Brookland Infant & Nursery School needed ramps to ensure access for its disabled students.
However, each of the four schools shared a morality to positively encourage the next generation, which they’ve integrated into the learning environment and physical environment through these new net zero spaces.
By developing these spaces to support sustainable change, all four schools are leading the way to assist future generations through more than just their positive learning environments.
To find out more about starting your net zero journey, get in touch or call us on 01638 596 155.