Sustainable School Buildings
Sustainable School Buildings are a hot topic as pressure mounts from the Government for all new public buildings to be zero carbon or carbon positive (target 2014 Wales, 2016 England). Having a sustainable building in your schools provides opportunity for sustainability to be demonstrated in a practical way within the school and provides an image of a progressive educational environment.
With so much focus of marketers and popularity, finding your way through the “green wash” to secure real environmental benefits can be quite a challenge. It is good to get back to basics and consider sustainability during the three main phases of the buildings lifespan; construction, use and demolition.
Timber is the planet’s only natural, renewable, recyclable construction material: it has been used in construction for many thousands of years. Now with FSC or PEFC certification you can be confident in its sourcing as well.
Modern Methods of Construction such as MPL timber buildings reduce on-site construction substantially. As a result there are less deliveries to site, less machinery so less noise and disruption to your neighbours as well. Faster construction is generally more cost effective as well.
Low Maintenance/Running Costs
You need to have an energy efficient or renewable energy source to both ensure that you can manage your running costs and also to ensure that you are minimising your carbon footprint.
There are a range of renewable energy options available and when combined with excellent U values and air pressure tests your sustainable building could potentially even be Carbon Neutral.
A low maintenance building is also a sustainable building as you have less expenditure and no chemicals or paint on site for the annual treatment. Choosing a suitable cladding such as Siberian Larch or Western Red Cedar will enable you to enjoy 60 – 80 years maintenance free!
By choosing a timber MPL classroom the majority of the building envelope is from a natural renewable source. So not only can the materials be replaced (new trees grown) and have a positive impact on the environment, but when the building comes to the end of its lifespan, the materials can be re-used in one format or another.
The larger the proportion of timber in your new school building, the more chance of a fully recyclable building envelope. Timber does not have to be restricted to just the outer skin which gives the appearance of sustainability, but can extend to the inner walls, floors, windows, doors, roof structure and even the final roofing material through such options as cedar shingles.
Checklist for Sustainable Buildings
- Sustainable sourcing of materials
- Noise, Odour & dust during construction
- Waste to landfill during manufacture and construction
- Maintenance and energy required during use of the building
- Recyclability after the end of the building’s natural life.
- Overall Carbon Footprint