Having built numerous schools in Leicestershire for over 20 years, our Major Projects Framework 2 (MPF2) partner, Willmott Dixon and their Midlands team have worked closely with Leicestershire County Council to design and build the county's first net-zero in operation school!
The 210-place school, located on Normandy Way now act as a template for future schools in the region, with the next school having already been granted planning permission.
Representatives from the council, academy trust, Willmott Dixon and students, teachers and parents attended the official opening event
Incorporating sustainable solutions
The new school is playing a key role in the council’s plan to become a net-zero carbon county by 2045, so sustainability played a key role in this project.
The new building took a fabric-first approach, using materials with a low U-value to enhance the building’s thermal efficiency – such as enhanced fabric walls, floors and roof as well as enhanced performance windows. This approach maximises air tightness, reducing the impact of external temperatures and keeping the building at an ambient temperature. When the building is in operation, this will help to reduce heating and cooling costs.
We also utilised a cross-laminated, prefabricated timber frame, which has helped to reduce embodied carbon emissions when compared to a traditional steel frame. By manufacturing the frame offsite, the programme for the timber frame erection was also half when compared to more traditional methods.
Finally, a 381m2 photovoltaic array sits on the roof to power the building, air source heat pumps provide heating and warm water, and electric vehicle charging points can be found in the car park.
Informing the design through advanced modelling
Achieving net-zero in operation across both regulated and unregulated energy sources is a critical part of this project.
Our team used advanced modelling, through Energy Synergy™, to help inform the design of the building. Using this modelling enabled our team to interrogate how changes to the design would positively or negatively impact on the sustainability of the building. In turn, this allowed key stakeholders at the council to make informed decisions about the project to get the best building for their aspirations and needs.
This modelling played a key part in establishing the size of the PV array required to power the building for both regulated and unregulated energy sources.
A STEM-rich learning environment
As part of the building's design, the school will act as the first STEM school for OWLS (Oadby, Wigston and Leicestershire Schools) Academy Trust. Inside the building, a range of M&E features have been left exposed so that the students can start to understand the different elements that go into a building.
This will provide children with an insight into the real-life application of STEM, which the academy trust hopes will open up opportunities to inspire the children to join different trades in the future.
Find out more about the framework here.