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Essex County Council says no to emissions in eco-friendly schools expansion scheme

Colne Community School: Image credit John Kees, John Kees Photography

PROGRESSIVE work led by Essex County Council has completed at secondary schools in Brightlingsea and Clacton-on-Sea, creating buildings designed to tackle climate change while providing space for hundreds of extra pupils to learn and exercise.

These schools feed into the council’s modular innovation drive to create more than 750 much-needed new school places in the region. The net zero new-builds form part of a decarbonisation plan in the educational capital programme of work and meets the Department for Education’s fresh air guidelines, ensuring the new schools are compliant with COVID-related health and safety requirements.

The development work has been carried out by independent property, construction, and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard, which has delivered architecture, civil, structural and MEP engineering, and principal design services across the schools.

Jon Ward, architect at Pick Everard, said: “It’s great to see the expansion of another two schools in Essex come to fruition and our relationship with Essex County Council proving successful. Our experience and expertise in both education schemes and sustainability is particularly strong, positioning us perfectly to deliver the high-quality, hybrid designs required by the council, which were implemented to help both pupils and staff reach their full potential.”

At Colne Community School and College in Brightlingsea, Pick Everard designed a new teaching block fully equipped with food technology rooms, resistant material workshops, standard classrooms, ancillary stores, plant room and WCs. It will use power generated on site to minimise solar heat gain and includes a range of energy efficient features, including high standards of air tightness. The daylight design provides a glare-free visual environment, further maximising energy efficiency.

Meanwhile, at Clacton County High School, Pick Everard have created an energy conscious design solution that generates power on-site through the provision of photovoltaic panels on the roof and an energy efficient heating system, via air source heat pumps. Delivering the full scheme for the client up to RIBA stage 3, architecture, structural, civil and principal designer disciplines then continued their services through stages four and five with the Main Contractor, delivering the sports hall, foundations and external works elements of the design. The completed project provides a new four-court sports hall with associated stores and a link to existing changing pavilion, six standard classrooms as well as a staff work room.

Keith Prendergast, national director at Pick Everard, said: “We are delighted that work at Colne Community School and College, and Clacton County High School has completed, marking another positive step in the move to increase pupil places in the Essex region. The new classrooms at both schools will improve the facilities for pupils and ensure the schools deliver a high-quality education with no environmental impact in the process.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Essex County Council, supporting its efforts to make new buildings more sustainable. We are also working closely with the modular supplier to ensure we achieve that brief, with the offsite modular process greatly reducing the overall programme time.”

Preceding these two secondary schools, Sweyne Park School in Raleigh recently became the first in the county to benefit from a net-zero carbon, modular building in a £2.2m scheme, meaning that the scheme initiated by Essex County Council to create 750 school places in the region has now completed.

Keith continued: “Current modular buildings offer a greater level of flexibility and innovation, and in the case of this particular scheme are ahead of the game in many ways – such as the adherence to DfE fresh air guidelines to ensure COVID compliance. The buildings are constructed off-site using the same materials and designed to the same codes and standards as conventional buildings – but in about half the time and with minimal disruption to the school. The units are produced in ‘modules’ to be put together on site. The build process is also more environmentally friendly as it reduces embodied carbon emissions.”

Cllr Tony Ball, cabinet member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability at Essex County Council, said the modular innovation project was successfully delivering essential new teaching space that provided pupils with a high-quality, bright, fresh, and comfortable learning environment.

Tony said: “At the same time, we are delivering our ambitions to tackle climate change and working towards making Essex carbon neutral. We know that buildings are currently responsible for 39 per cent of global energy-related carbon emissions – this project plays a part in reducing those.

“And building this way leaves schools with more money to spend on educating children rather than paying bills and maintenance.”

Pick Everard employs more than 650 staff across its 15 offices, providing a range of project, cost, and design consultancy services.

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