From Mining Community to Net Zero: Staffordshire School Leads the Way

The Hart School

(Credit: Kinetic Communications, The Hart School)

by | Dec 21, 2022

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The Hart School

(Credit: Kinetic Communications, The Hart School)

The Hart School in Rugeley has recently completed a new, highly-efficient development with sustainable experts, Net Zero Buildings. This huge investment for the local community offers additional capacity for the growing school, as it becomes a part of a net zero future.

As a result of the new building’s A+ energy efficiency rating, the school will save an estimated £30 per m2 per year. This will see an approximate saving of up to £11,500 on energy bills this winter.

Pioneering change from mining roots

Less than two miles from Lea Hall Colliery, a disused mine that produced over one million tons of coal per year on several occasions between 1970 to 1980, The Hart School is leading Rugeley into a new era by committing to its net zero in operation expansion.

As a part of the Creative Education Trust, this development, which was completed in October 2022, is a part of a larger scheme to encourage net zero school buildings across the country.

“We’ve had net zero aspirations for a long time,” comments Jon Ward, director of estates and facilities, Creative Education Trust. “But when the local authority asked us to take on additional children at The Hart School, these aspirations became more urgent, as we needed to continue to provide an excellent and sustainable learning environment for the children of Rugeley.”

Developing net zero

Net Zero Buildings designed a sustainable solution for the Trust to replace the existing 1960s single-story building, which offered much-needed teaching spaces within the existing group of buildings.

The 385m2 project supports the school in handling increasing student numbers – with 147 more students starting in 2022 than three years ago. It includes a new teaching block, made up of five classrooms, as well as female, male and accessible toilets, which is connected to one of the school’s existing buildings, ensuring seamless transitions for staff and students between the old and new.

The new building uses a combination of sustainable technologies to reach an A+ energy efficiency rating:

  • Externally, design choices include a roof covered in photovoltaic (PV) panels and super-insulated timber-faced panels, which are extremely airtight for minimal heat loss.
  • Internally, the building uses mechanical heat recovery ventilation and sensor-controlled low-energy lighting, while maximizing natural daylight, to create a sustainable, yet comfortable, internal environment.

This combination of lean, green and clean technology results in a highly sustainable building, with an air permeability value of 1.73m3/(h.m2) at 50 Pa, which is much lower than the typical value of 5 for a building like this.

The Creative Education Trust chose Net Zero Buildings to deliver the Hart School extension, as it was able to deliver a highly-sustainable solution that reflected the school’s net zero carbon ambitions. This means in operation, the school will generate more electricity than it uses, reducing running costs and helping to offset its carbon – which is more important than ever, given the current economic climate.

A flexible solution

The Trust chose to build using offsite solutions as it’s highly-sustainable, reducing carbon emissions, construction waste and energy consumption during the construction stage. Offsite also meant the new school building could be in operation up to nine months quicker than traditional construction methods. It also enabled a more cost-effective build, with Net Zero buildings completing the project under budget.

The environment did present some challenges, with varying ground levels in the site’s southeast corner making installation difficult. To address this, Net Zero Buildings first levelled out slopes to ensure the extension could be installed with ease. It also adapted the building’s design to suit, as the varying levels meant the southeast corner wasn’t able to use photovoltaic panels for solar gain. As a result, Net Zero Buildings incorporated larger windows, which will account for any shading that may reduce the building’s natural sunlight.

“It’s been wonderful to work so closely with Net Zero Buildings as it developed the Hart School designs. We understood the challenges associated with achieving a net zero environment on the existing school site, but we were keen to push further to ensure our investment was a sustainable one, and Net Zero Buildings enabled us to do this,” continues Jon Ward.

“We were extremely keen to work with Net Zero Buildings as it’s part of an educational framework, and we knew working with them meant lead times could be accelerated.

“The project was completed in the spirit of partnership, and it was all achieved ahead of expectation, so we could accommodate the additional children as soon as possible.

“Net Zero Buildings has delivered excellent teaching spaces that are sustainable for the children of Rugeley, and the work we’ve achieved together has enabled us to better understand options for further construction projects. We’re very much looking forward to working with Net Zero Buildings in the future,” concludes Jon Ward.

For more information on how you could deliver sustainable solutions for the next generation of students and teachers, visit Net Zero Buildings, or call 01638 596 155.

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