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Environmentally friendly school aims for top marks 22 February 2008

THE brand new Scoill Ree Gorree, taking shape in Ramsey, is likely to be the greenest building the Isle of Man Government has ever built.

The Department of Education has enthusiastically taken on board the Government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions in its plans for the £7.5 million replacement for the 100-year-old Albert Road Junior School.

Scoill Ree Gorree new buildingThe new school in Lezayre Road will be heated by using ground source heat pumps, which will take heat from pipes under the new football pitch, taking advantage of the fact that the temperature 1.2 metres below the ground is constant at around 11°C throughout the year.

Heat pumps capable of providing 4kW of heat from 1kW of electricity then bring this heat to a higher temperature, which feeds under-floor heating in the classrooms.

This should provide heating by electricity for less than the price of gas and produce circa 30% less CO2 than a gas system. The other telling factor is that it should cost in the order of 25% less to heat the school, meaning that more funding is available for other resources.

The building will be the first in the Isle of Man to be assessed by BREEAM – the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method – which sets standards for best practice in sustainable development.

It is a condition of capital funding in the UK that new build and large refurbishment projects achieve a ‘very good’ rating under BREEAM. The contractors and the design team carrying out work at Scoill Ree Gorree are targeting an ‘excellent’ rating, the highest environmental performance award available.

Graeme Terris, a Director of Foreman Roberts, the building services engineers involved in the project, explained:

‘To do this, the Department, the design team and the contractors have to target best practice in avoiding waste, in terms of energy and water and in terms of what ends up in the skip. The Department also has to ensure that the building is situated to avoid the overuse of cars. Re-use of existing land rather than greenfield sites is encouraged.
‘Ecology is also looked at, as is management of the finished building. Materials specified have to be kind to the environment and be from local and/or sustainable sources wherever possible.
‘Effectively, the team needed to re-think things from scratch, though a lot of the processes had been previously used in the adjacent Auldyn School, which would have received a “very good” rating had it been assessed by BREEAM.’

Mr Terris said:

‘It is hard to think of another industry which has more potential positive effect on reducing global warming than the construction industry – other than perhaps car manufacturers.
‘The creation of a low-energy and sustainable school involves all parties, right from the initial briefing, the design stage, through the construction phase to how the building is then used following opening.’

Work on Scoill Ree Gorree will be completed later on this spring. The school’s staff and 257 pupils will begin lessons in the new building from the start of the new term in September. The building will have the capacity for 380 pupils.

Headteacher Mike Faragher said:

‘All of us at Albert Road are getting very excited about the move to Scoill Ree Gorree and are delighted to be moving into such an environmentally friendly building. There are draft plans in place to develop the site further into a useful resource for environmental studies.’

He said:

‘Andree Dubbeldam of the Manx Wildlife Trust has offered advice on how sensitive tree and shrub planting will encourage wildlife and there are plots of land we hope to be able to turn into wildlife areas and a school garden. I would like to pay tribute to the project team for their commitment to ensuring that the site as a whole will be as eco friendly as possible.’

Mr Faragher continued:

‘Albert Road School will close its doors to pupils on 22 July 2008. This will then allow staff three days to oversee the transfer of essential resources, records and equipment from the old to the new school. Scoill Ree Gorree will then open for business on Tuesday 9th September.’

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