First Passivhaus secondary school set to be built in London

The first secondary school to use energy-saving Passivhaus design principles is set to be built for the Harris Federation in, Sutton, south London.

Its design could help to reduce costs by 70 to 90 per cent “post-completion” compared with a normal school.

Eleven schools in England have been or are set to be built on the architectural principle first developed in Germany in the early 1990s. The first batch of primary schools were set up in the West Midlands in 2012.

The heating bill at one of these, Oak Meadow, dropped from £45,000 to £5,000 after moving into its Passivhaus school. This £40,000 saving equated to an entire staff salary. These savings are being achieved even as schools face overall 8 per cent budget cuts in real terms over the next four years.

The phrase translates as “passive house”, with the buildings using mechanical rather than natural ventilation, as well as recycled fibres, nearly air-tight spaces and triple glazing- all of which cuts the need for central heating.

The “standard expectation” is for schools to save at least 70 per cent on long-term operational costs compared with a school built to standard regulations.

Ben Humphries, director of architects Architype, which is designing the 1,200 pupil Harris Free School in Sutton to open next September, claimed that pupils felt “more alert” because rooms did not have “the stuffy feeling that occurs in afternoon classes, generated by artificial heat and light in conventional schools”.

A spokesperson for the Harris Federation said that savings on energy costs meant “more money can be spent on children’s education”.

Another secondary school, Parliament Hill in north London, also has planning permission for a 6,000m2 Passivhaus-designed extension to go ahead.

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