BRE to showcase exemplar as Partnerships for Schools makes pledge to go green

Willmott Dixon is part of a consortium that has been appointed by the BRE to build a zero-carbon mini-school as a model for future education projects.

The contractor is working with architect White Design and engineer Max Fordham on the project, to be showcased at the BRE offsite exhibition in June.

The plans have emerged in the same week that Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnerships for Schools (PfS), said it was working towards better environmental standards for the £45bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

“We are working closely with the education department to explore ways in which we can help schools get even closer to the prize of making schools carbon neutral,” said Byles.

A spokesperson for Willmott Dixon said that the design could be used by “anyone and everyone as an example”. BSF schools have been criticised for poor sustainability standards.

The school will demonstrate principles which can be used in a full-size school. It will be built from recycled solid timber by Eurban, which will arrive on site flat-packed, and will be naturally ventilated and lit. The materials have been chosen with recycling in mind.

Speaking at the PfS annual conference in London, Byles said that the aim was to work beyond BREEAM standards, including a separate carbon emissions test in schools, which account for 15% of public sector emissions.

Byles, four months into the job, acknowledged that the original timetable for the plans had slipped. Jim Knight, the schools minister, said: “The first wave was always going to be the most difficult because it was in inner-city areas, but we won’t speed up at the expense of quality.”

Byles said one of the problems was that people in charge of BSF at local authorities did not all have the right experience to set up Local Education Partnerships, the public-private model charged with delivering BSF. To tackle this, last week PfS launched the Chief Executives Advisory Group, where experienced chief executives from local authorities will meet to discuss best practice and assist other local authorities.

“There is a finite pot of talent in the procurement world and we will parachute in those experienced chief executives,” said Byles.
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