Perth gives green light for Passivhaus primary school

Perth & Kinross Council has granted full planning approval for one of the first Passivhaus standard primary schools in Scotland.

Perth gives green light for Passivhaus primary school

The school in North Perth, which will replace both the current North Muirton and Balhousie Primary Schools, is being delivered by Robertson Construction Tayside on behalf of hub East Central with Architype as both lead consultant and Passivhaus designer.

The new school, which will be built on the site of the current North Muirton Primary School, will have a capacity for 500 pupils and will incorporate a nursery and additional support needs (ASN) provision each with their own dedicated outdoor space. Due to complete in early 2023, both original schools will remain in operation until that time.

Passivhaus is an integrated design methodology where buildings provide a high level of comfort for occupants while using very little energy for heating and cooling. The new school will deliver a 60-80% reduction in energy consumption, resulting in carbon reductions, and lower running and maintenance costs. The standard is achieved through the design and build phase, and selection of materials to ensure building efficiency throughout the project.

Councillor Caroline Shiers, lifelong learning convener at Perth & Kinross Council, said: “This is a very exciting development as part of the Council’s work to transform the school estate in Perth and Kinross. We aim through this project to both enhance education provision for children in the north of Perth but also support a more environmentally friendly learning and teaching environment – as one of the first Passivhaus primary schools to be built in Scotland.” 

The new school also meets the aspirations of Perth & Kinross Council as it works towards a zero carbon agenda, as the council’s interim chief executive, Barbara Renton explained: “We want to ensure that our buildings, from offices to schools, are energy efficient, cost-effective to run and maintain, and contribute to an improved environment. Using the Passivhaus Standard for the new primary school in North Perth enables us to address all three areas at once through carbon reduction being built into the design and construction process.” 

Elliot Robertson, chief executive officer at Robertson Group, said: “As part of our commitment to be a responsible business, we are continually seeking new ways in which to make positive contributions to the built environment and its users. As the partner of choice in the delivery of the first Scottish Passivhaus primary school, we are confident that this new school will contribute significantly to protecting the environment while creating a facility the entire community can be proud of, which will enhance learning experiences and support and encourage attainment.” 

The designs for the building were carefully considered following extensive consultation with the local community and will provide first class learning facilities comprising 16 classrooms, with a further two available for future school expansion, ASN provision; group study rooms; multi-use hall; kitchen area; staff facilities; multi-use games area (MUGA) pitch for both school and community use; and nursery accommodation which will be in operation 50 weeks a year. 

Ann-Marie Fallon, associate director and Passivhaus designer, Architype, said: “We have been delighted to be involved in designing Scotland’s first Passivhaus primary school in a year when Scotland is on the international map hosting COP26. Full credit should go to Perth & Kinross Council and Robertson for committing with us to building forward better. This is real evidence of clients and contractors going beyond minimum building requirements to provide quality assured comfort and performance over the building’s life, providing a beautiful and exciting new school for the community, as well as being a catalyst for educational change across Scotland.”

The landscape design is equally important and many of the existing pedestrian paths that connect the school with the neighbouring area are being retained to encourage active travel through walking and cycling to school.

In addition, the new school will benefit from an outdoor activity trail and a sheltered outdoor classroom for both informal self-guided play and programmed outdoor learning.

Gary Bushnell, chief executive, hub East Central Scotland, said: “It is great to see this project moving forward and it builds on our strategic partnership with Perth and Kinross Council which has so far successfully delivered six new schools across the region since 2015. The Passivhaus standard places the new school at the forefront of sustainable building for education and will serve the community for many years to come.”

The school will also benefit from solar panels, fitted to the roof, which will further assist Perth & Kinross Council as it works towards its Zero Carbon aspirations.

Preparatory works will commence in the summer with the removal of the nursery building at the existing North Muirton Primary School to create access to the site for the main works to commence in September.

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