Edinburgh to build Scotland’s first Passivhaus schools

Scotland’s first Passivhaus schools are set to be constructed in Edinburgh as the Capital looks to make the building standard central to its plans to become carbon neutral by 2030.

A total of over £100m of investment will be committed to the rebuild programme, which involves three schools, with the technology could save the authority up to £435,000 a year on heating bills.

Currie High, Trinity Academy and Castlebrae High are to be renovated over the next five years, while plans to rebuild another three academic institutions will be brought forward later this year, subject to funding from the Scottish Government.

Several Passivhaus schools have been built in England and the first commercial building to use the technology in Scotland was built in 2015, a nursery in Aberdeen.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, believes that Edinburgh Council is showing leadership in building schools to these ambitious energy efficient standards.

“Energy efficient construction makes sense from an economic and environmental point of view with initial investment recouped in both financial and carbon savings on heating once the building is being used,” he said.

 “It’s important that the council leads by example in this way and does what it can to encourage more public projects and business developments to follow these impressive standards. Reducing the amount energy wasted from buildings is a key part of the action needed to cut our climate emissions.”

In addition to this, Edinburgh councillors will investigate upgrading the authority's old buildings to make them more sustainable following calls from Green councillors, with officials set to examine how buildings could be retrofitted to Passivhaus or 'gold' sustainability standards and how much it would cost.

Cllr Adam McVey, leader of Edinburgh Council, argues that it’s vital the council takes “every action in its power” to make its own estate as energy efficient as it can be

“The city has been set a very ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030,” he said.

“The challenge – for us, and for all local authorities – comes with the costly and invasive process required to retrofit older buildings. 25 per cent of council buildings pre-date 1910 and many are also listed, which presents additional challenges.”

"While we accept this will be a significant challenge we want to ensure we have explored how this can be done. In the meantime, we continue to monitor current energy consumption across our estate so we can look at ways to reduce emissions, change energy sources where possible and offset emissions. There’s no single solution to this, we’ll need to deploy a range of measures to decarbonise our buildings.”

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