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How eco classrooms are functional and educational

Simon Fearnehough from the Hideout House Company explains how eco classrooms can be both a building and an educational resource

Posted by Fiona Cowan | August 30, 2017 | Sustainability

The subject of climate change and awareness of worldwide environmental issues is undoubtedly a big feature in the news nowadays and thankfully in schools as well. In fact, there are now 18k+ schools in England alone registered to the Eco Schools programme which empowers children and young adults to improve our environment.

At the Hideout House Company, we specialise in designing and creating products which complement the whole Eco School ethos and its underlying core principles of re-cycling, renewable energy, biodiversity, water and healthy living.

So we wanted to take this one step further with our range of eco classrooms. Not only should they be environmentally friendly buildings with every facet of their design and manufacture embracing sustainability, they should also act as an educational resource where children can actually take part in the whole sustainability process and thereby learn from it. In brief, the eco classroom has to 'do something' which the children can relate to, actively take part in and therefore will want to be more engaged in the whole eco programme.

Our range of eco outdoor classrooms and eco classrooms therefore feature the following:

- Living sedum roofs which attract wildlife/bio diversity, absorb harmful CO2 from the atmosphere and are also good natural insulators

- Water butt and roof guttering system to allow for rainwater harvesting which can be re-cycled to feed whatever is being grown in our built-in planters

- An educational wind turbine, solar panel and energy monitoring board system which promotes awareness in renewable energy. Energy which is created from the sun and wind is stored into a battery (which is mounted onto the internal board) and by way of an inverter is then adapted into usable electricity. Children can then power up their portable devices using 100% green energy.

- Special dynamo bikes which the children have to pedal to create usable electricity. These bikes have been used in the past to power up mobile phones, laptops, mobile music and sound systems, lights, pond fountains and even video/films. A video of these bikes in action can be seen on our website video page.

- Mini greenhouses and storage units

- Nesting boxes with CCTV systems

The building can either be an open-sided “gazebo” type outdoor classroom in various shapes and sizes or they can be totally enclosed with full insulation and double glazing for all year round use whatever the weather and season.

We have completed quite a few eco classrooms over the years and have also been able to help schools with some grant funding as there are quite a few grant providers who very much look to fund projects which promote environmental awareness.

Academies are able to lease assets so it is also possible to lease these buildings on a typical 3-5 year period. At the end of this time, the school is able to “buy” the building from the leasing company. This type of financing arrangement is becoming very popular with academy schools in the UK as it allows them to pay for and thereby cash flow the building over a period of years, benefit from the use of the building immediately (rather than having to wait until a full funding package is in place) and could possibly rent it commercially to provide an ancillary income for the school. This additional income could of course be used to offset or even pay for the monthly leasing charges.

For further information on our eco classroom buildings, please contact the Hideout House Company on 01865 858982 or email info@hideouthouse.com

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