In 2009, we completed the construction of a new school hall and a major reconfiguration of Salway Ash Primary School building in Bridport, Dorset.
Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the school’s brief was both thoughtful and forward-thinking, and required a design that would deliver an environmentally friendly and sustainable building. The school Governors were the driving force behind using renewable energy as part of the build and requested us to apply for funding specifically for this. We succeeded in gaining some of the last major funding available for renewables projects to fund this project. It was a real opportunity to bring to life the school’s sustainability aspirations and at the same time, provide a life enhancing environment for its pupils.
By carefully considering the surrounding landscape, the existing building, and the way in which the architecture would settle into the landscape over time, we decided to create a sedum roof for the new school entrance lobby and offices. Sedum is a succulent with a shallow root system and can be used to create a ‘green roof’. The environmental advantages of such a roof are many – it purifies the air, regulates the indoor temperature, saves energy, and supports biodiversity. The sedums themselves are drought tolerant, low maintenance, provide great insulation and are visually arresting.
As solar energy has the least negative impact on the environment compared to any other energy source, this was an important power source to be included in the build, and solar PV panels were installed on south facing slope of the roof over the new hall. Solar panels are much more in evidence in the landscape in recent years. Roof tops and rural field systems are now homes to solar panels and increasing contribute to the way electricity is generated in the UK. For Salway Ash Primary School, this represented a sustainable energy choice and one of three types of energy generation that we used in the build.
The environmentally friendly and sustainable design of the new extension also included the use of air source heat pumps with under floor heating. These pumps are designed to transfer heat absorbed from the air outside the building, to an indoor space, which can be used to heat radiators or water, for example. Air source heat pumps work much like a refrigerator, as they are designed to absorb heat and then transfer it to another medium. They are especially suited to under floor heating, providing constant heat at low temperature rather than short periods of high temperature.
Finally, a wind turbine was installed to take advantage of the school’s position in the landscape and provide a third source of environmentally friendly, power generation. The wind is a source of clean energy, which does not release any pollution or produce any waste, making the use of wind turbines a perfect addition to the suite of sustainable power generation for the school building.
The renewable energy is now included in the school’s curriculum. Children monitor the readings on the energy displays and learn ways of saving energy.
Once the project was completed, the result was a reconfigured school, with internal and external spaces that would be easier for the school to use; a much more welcoming layout and a sustainable and environmentally friendly building to be proud of.