When you’re looking to win yourself a schools contract, up-to-date knowledge of sustainable technologies can prove to be a deal breaker. EMC takes a look at north Wales’ first ever ‘green school’

Starting as you mean to go on has always been a fine tenet, and when Anglesey Council relocated Ysgol Y Graig Primary School from its busy industrial estate to a leafy greenfield site on the outskirts of Llangefni, it already had its sights set on a sustainable building that would reflect the site’s natural environment.

In recent years, the UK has seen a remarkable surge in new-build schools with low-carbon footprints and renewable technologies. Anglesey, it seems, wanted a piece of the action.

Ysgol Y Graig was designed in-house by Anglesey Council’s Property Section design team. The £3.9m project was completed on time, and the inspiring facility has now opened its doors to more than 300 students.

The school lays claim to a host of eco-friendly features, generating energy from extensive photovoltaic roof tiles and a 6 kW wind turbine. Impressively, the technologies will allow the school to produce 50% of its own energy consumption.

On visiting the site, it becomes clear that the school’s eco-friendly blueprint extends beyond its forward-thinking services design. Built from sustainable timber, with various walls painted in bold primary colours, the building displays a striking exterior.

Gabione cladding, made from locally sourced stone, reinforces a back-to-nature aesthetic and sends out a clear message on reducing carbon footprints in that the long-haul transportation of building materials for its construction was avoided.

The institute also boasts a green roof, which provides a natural habitat for plants and also serves as a kind of ‘living classroom’.

Skylights flood classrooms and corridors with natural daylight, reducing energy bills. Electrical contractor Lloyd Morris also installed movement and daylight-activated energy-efficient lamps throughout the school.

Marco provided cable management solutions. Its Apollo three-compartment dado trunking, complete with accessories, deliver power, data and voice services throughout the school. Installation times and costs were kept to a minimum as outer compartments provide maximum capacity for data cables.

The cable management manufacturer also played a somewhat inadvertent role in reducing the project’s carbon footprint – the firm’s factory is virtually next door to Ysgol Y Graig school.

Marco managing director Ian MacGregor says: “Being situated so close to Ysgol Y Graig, it’s great to be part of the local team that helped create such a landmark facility. The specification and design of the building fell very much in line with the Marco ethos in terms of sustainability. We are committed to sourcing, managing and recycling in a sustainable manner.”

Clwyd-based Margden Heating won the £230 000 mechanical contract. It supplied Ysgol Y Graig with 160 kW of installed heating and a centralised plant room split over two levels, providing easy access for service and maintenance.

Space heating is provided by high-efficiency condensing gas boilers with LST radiators, and the Margden team opted for gas-fired water heaters.

The school is naturally ventilated, thanks to the incorporation of high and low-level louvres, which can be controlled by staff, using the building management system. Solar-power extract fans provide ventilation for bathroom areas.

IES created a building model for the school so that it could check the school’s likely environmental performance. As a result, the school achieved an ‘A’ rating on its energy performance certificate.

The firm specialises in 3D building modelling, with advanced simulations that can cut costs as well as substantially lower a building’s carbon footprint.

Margden Heating director John Roberts feels that an especially strong collaborative approach contributed to the project’s success.

“We worked hand in hand with electrical contractor Lloyd Morris and held regular team briefings with main contractor Wynne Construction.

“This ongoing positive communication meant that we encountered few obstacles and managed to meet all set targets and timescales.”

This school for the future is far more than a mere structure to house pupils, it’s an educational resource, teaching students to understand how their environmental impact can be regulated via green technologies.

“I’m certain that the building itself will provide the children with a very interesting science project – as well as a great new school,” says headteacher Glynn Roberts.