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School's green credentials recognised

Maximising sustainability while staying within council budgets was a key challenge for a new-build school in Peterborough

Posted by Dave Higgitt | May 18, 2015 | Bricks & mortar

When Peterborough City Council sought to build the new Welland Primary School, it wanted to achieve a BREEAM ‘very good’ rating. Incorporating the rating while meeting the council’s children’s department needs and keeping to the finance department’s budget, however, proved difficult. The council then turned to contractor Kier Eastern and architects Woods Hardwick to build a school which would stay within budget and gain the rating.

During the design development, a simple palette of materials was established early on in the process, comprising facing brickwork, render, aluminium, glazing and a ‘green roof’. These options were specified for their sustainable and ‘Green Guide’ credentials, as well as for their visual appearance. Along with the natural ‘living’ green roof, other sustainable initiatives included a rainwater harvesting system, photovoltaic panels, sun pipes, wind catchers and a biomass boiler using recycled pellets.

Woods Hardwick director Mark Appleyard realised that fulfilling the council’s requirement for a BREEAM ‘very good’ rating while remaining within budget would require value engineering. This meant implementing changes to the high level of sustainability features designed into the school, such as eliminating a proposed solar attic: although this would be a useful sustainability feature, the school could still qualify for the ‘very good’ category without it. Instead Woods Hardwick decided to opt for heating from a wood pellet biomass boiler and found the space by further tweaking the original design.

The plan form for the school followed a simple linear arrangement based on standard room layouts. Classrooms and other teaching, non-teaching and ancillary spaces branch off a main ‘street’ which forms the backbone of the school. A glazed veranda roof above each classroom connects back to the main structure, a design which enables roof lights to enhance natural daylight and brighten the internal ‘street’ and some of the internal rooms. The edges of the ‘green roof’ are finished with a deep profiled polyester powder-coated aluminium fascia and verge detail finished in dark grey. The entrances to the class-based cloakrooms are finished in a smooth through-coloured insulated render system.

The final outcome is a school comprising a total of 14 classrooms, including dedicated cloakrooms and WCs, two school halls, a food technology room, staffroom, a dedicated activity space and library. In addition, the school also accommodates several group rooms, stores and offices. The project has now received a Peterborough Development and Environment Award. It has also received an award at the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) East Anglia Building Excellence Awards for best education building’ and was put forward for the LABC National Awards.

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