Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Kingsmead Primary School, Northwich, Cheshire, UK-England

Exemplary design categories: cost efficiency, energy efficiency, safety

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
The project’s objective was to deliver an exemplary school of sustainable design and construction. The school integrates many of the principles enshrined in the Department for Education and Skills’ (DfES) “Schools for the Future” agenda and demonstrates its three main principles: 1. To raise educational standards. 2. To produce inspiring, flexible exemplary designs. 3. To deliver schools to a high standard, rapidly, cost-effectively and consistently. This ethos informs every aspect of the design, from its orientation on the site, to the selection of natural materials, the use of natural ventilation, daylighting techniques and the landscape concept. The design took best practice guidance from DfES as a starting point, and sought to go beyond them. The procurement options for the building also helped to achieve the environmental targets by sourcing local materials and labour where possible.

Energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies The proposal innovates in the organisation of space in a number of ways. The north facing classroom design ensures classrooms receive consistent and high light levels. The project uses natural ventilation techniques to minimise the use of mechanical ventilation. Careful integration of the Building Management System allows each space to be ventilated automatically while maintaining acoustic separation.

The school was designed to be energy efficient by natural daylighting to reduce the reliance on electric lights and super insulation to reduce heating costs. Further measures such as rainwater collections and waste minimisation have been put in place. The school utilises three forms of renewable energy: photovoltaics, solar water heating and biomass. The scheme incorporated provision of secure boundary fencing, automatic fire detection (linked back to a monitoring station) and a sophisticated closed circuit television system (also linked to a monitoring station) that can be used as an educational resource during the day and a security measure during evenings and weekends.

The next steps for Kingsmead include expanding the monitoring system to better measure the energy used in the building. This data will be saved onto a computer and used as a teaching and learning aid. Monitoring the energy use so closely also will enable the most energy efficient use of the building. Other important objectives are to achieve a surplus of energy generated by the solar photovoltaic system for export to the national grid, and to change the fuel for the biomass boiler from wood pellets to locally sourced woodchip.

Involvement of users and the local community in the planning and design process:
As this was a new school to serve a rapidly expanding housing development a Head teacher was not appointed until after construction work had commenced on site. Once it was known who was to be the Head teacher she was fully integrated into the Partnering Team and involved in all decision making.

Activity Areas: 7 classrooms, hall, kitchen, library, administrative areas, toilets, changing areas, winter gardens, group rooms and food bay

Project costs: GBP 2,100,000.00

Source: 3rd CELE Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities (2006)

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User perspectives (1)

The use of daylight, ventilation and north facing classrooms enhance the learning environment. This supports the physical needs of learners who are comfortable and able to be in the relaxed and alert state that is so important for learning. Teachers benefit from the provision of the staff office, which will be even more important as a place for staff to work when PPA time comes in in September. This leaves the staffroom largely as a place to relax and socialise which is a small but important part of the working day in any profession. Interest in jobs at Kingsmead has exceeded all expectations, even compared to other new schools, many applicants had a personal interest in sustainability and the building being the driving force behind their application. The wooden structure enhances the use of wireless ICT as it is faster with good coverage for laptop computers.
Catriona Stewart, Principal

Images (7)

Drawings (3)

Furniture plan (Registration required)

Credit: White Design Associates Ltd
Site plan (Registration required)
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Credit: White Design Associates Ltd
Building plan (Registration required)
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Credit: White Design Associates Ltd