Leeds school building paving the way for a low-energy future

Contracts managing surveyor Rob Soulsby.
Contracts managing surveyor Rob Soulsby.
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A new school in east Leeds is leading the ‘green’ way for more low energy use schools across West Yorkshire.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is hailing Richmond Hill Primary School as an “exciting exemplar building” which will act as an inspiration to other schools.

The new-build school, on Clark Lane in Richmond Hill, is home to 630 pupils, a 26-place nursery and a 16-place autistic spectrum condition facility.

But it uses up to 80 per cent less energy than a conventionally built equivalent building, reducing its carbon emissions by 60 per cent without the use of renewable energy.

The new school was recently completed by Interserve, the international support services and construction group.

Contracts managing surveyor Rob Soulsby said: “It took over a year to build Richmond Hill Primary and the many green measures that we implemented have enabled the school to achieve the revolutionary ‘Passivhaus’ (PH) design standards certification, which demonstrates that a building is exceptionally energy efficient.”

Building to the high standards of Passivhaus is a challenge and over 3,000 photographs were taken throughout the school’s construction to ensure quality assurance.

Richmond Hill Primary is thought to be the largest Passivhaus-certified building in the UK and will benefit from improved learning conditions as well as low energy use.

Innovative teaching areas have been implemented to allow groups and individuals to learn away from the traditional claustrophobic classroom, whilst a learning street allows for flexible teaching.

Interserve has demolished the old school building and is in the process of building a rugby pitch in its place, which will also be used by sports groups.

Rob added: “We worked closely with the design team and Leeds City Council to ensure all ideas to keep the school’s running costs to a minimum were accommodated, but not at the cost of the building’s Passivhaus certification.

“We are exceptionally proud of the result and delighted the children and teachers are all enjoying their new school.”

Earlier this year, RICS warned that the annual cost of electricity to run Britain’s schools is expected to rise by around £150m by 2030, as a result of climate change causing more schools to increase their electricity usage.

RICS says that by 2030, a typical Yorkshire school building of around 2,500 sq m can expect to pay over £7,000 per year in electricity – having a significant impact on the environment and on spend and investment.

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