Special needs school will feature sustainable feature including solar water heating, passive ventilation and automated windows

A £10m Liverpool special learning needs school is to feature a raft of sustainability features.

The scheme, Lower Lee, includes residential units and has been designed to have a village feel. It is intended for young adults with special learning needs and is a joint partnership between business services group Mouchel and Liverpool City Council.

The scheme comprises a two-storey school, four blocks of ranging from two to three storeys, and recreational and parking areas. As well as automated windows it will include solar water heating, providing an average of 50% of the hot water requirements in the complex; passive ventilation, obviating the need for mechanical ventilation and a night time cooling system.

Heat and CO2 sensors are planned throughout the building and activate the window controls on a room-by-room basis. They are linked to a roof-mounted weather station that allows the system to react to changing weather conditions. Mouchel project architect, Phil Martin, said he expected the school to achieve BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating based on accredited assessment.

diagram one

The solar water system is costed at £70,000 across five buildings and the automatic window system priced at £130,000. The solar energy panels will generate a 5% saving on overall energy costs although it is not expected that the environmental features will pay for themselves during the lifetime of the building. The school is expected to use 90Kw/h per m2. "An BREEAM 'Excellent' rating would only be achievable with a considerably larger outlay on renewables," said Martin. Construction is expected to run from March 2008 to autumn 2009.