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An eco-classroom for Morden Primary School

Simon Fernehough, Director of The Hideout House Company, explains how schools can be educational and environmentally friendly

Posted by Lucinda Reid | June 14, 2017 | Sustainability

The environment is still very much at the forefront of school educational and practical agendas on sustainability and indeed there are now over 18,000 registered eco-schools in England alone. The Eco-Schools Programme concentrates on core eco awareness themes which include renewable energy, health living, re-cycling and bio-diversity.

With this in mind, we were approached last year by Morden Primary School who wanted an eco-outdoor classroom which needed to embrace as many of the eco-school themes as possible. The building itself, therefore, needed to be both an educational and environmental resource, as well as being used as a traditional outdoor classroom and shelter. The whole ethos behind the project was that children should not just be taught about sustainable development, they need to see it, to witness it and to be actively involved within it: essentially a learning place in which to explore what a sustainable lifestyle means.

The school were initially presented with the idea of having a living sedum roof as this type of roof system has undoubtable eco credentials (it attracts bio-diversity, it is a natural insulator and it absorbs CO2) but this was subsequently discarded as sedum roofs can be quite high maintenance.

The whole ethos behind the project was that children should not just be taught about sustainable development, they need to see it

On the roof, we have instead installed a solar panel (which is made from special materials to easily withstand errant footballs and potential vandalism) and a mini wind turbine which is mounted to the side on a pole. The siting of the outdoor shelter at the school is in a very good position because it is south facing (so plenty of sun and natural light for the solar panel) and is not shielded by any trees which would act as a wind block for the turbine. The energy created by these two items is then stored in a special battery which is mounted (but yet concealed) onto the main control board which in turn is fitted to an internal wall panel in the outdoor classroom. This power is then in turn converted into usable electricity via an inverter whereby the children can plug in their laptops, tablets, mobiles etc into the two power sockets - and thereby appreciate 100% green energy powered by natural elements!

To take the renewable energy theme one step further, we have also supplied the school with a special dynamo bike which the children have to pedal in order to create energy which like the above system, is then turned into usable electricity. The faster they pedal, the more power they produce! This bike system is then plugged into a multi-faceted charging point for laptops, mobiles, tablets, visualisers etc. By way of a watt-o-meter, the children can see how their pedaling efforts are translated into the amount of power created and to put this into perspective, we have supplied a special poster which shows how many kilowatts of power are required for certain household items.

Both these renewable energy systems are also actively involving the participation of the school children and therefore this way, they will appreciate how we can easily create clean and green energy which does not pollute the environment. And of course, there is a bit of fun involved too.

The school has further plans for future developments along this eco theme including a water butt and roof guttering system which will be retro-fitted to the outdoor shelter so that the harvested rain water can be used to water the planters and beds in the next door gardening facility - which at the moment is a problem as there is no water supply to this area and is beyond the reach of a hose.

The project was funded by Tesco's Bags of Help community grant.

For further information on our eco classrooms, please contact the Hideout House Company on 01865 858982 or email:

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