Eco Nuts In Devon
By Paul Homewood
h/t Philip Bratby/Dave Bodecott
One of the first zero carbon primary schools in the country has been built in south Devon.
The new £7 million Dartington Church of England Primary and Nursery School opened its doors to pupils on 25 February 2010.
There are four separate clusters of buildings which are constructed from pre-fabricated sustainable timber panels.
They are insulated with natural wood fibre and clad in locally grown sweet chestnut. The under floor heating is being provided by air source heat pumps with ventilation via a heat recovery system.
The electricity will come from photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof and the water will be heated by solar power.
The school is planning to sell some of the electricity it generates to the National Grid.
Solar panels are one of the eco features
Rain water will be collected for re-use within the school and a sustainable drainage system is being incorporated within the extensive landscaping which includes reed beds and ponds to filter grey water.
The new school replaces the dilapidated old primary and has been built on a site nearby.
Dartington headteacher Jill Mahon said: "It is a stunning design and is truly a unique building.
"I believe it will be a flagship school which will be extremely environmentally-friendly.
"The eco building fits in very well with our school culture and it will really be an amazing learning tool for the children."
BBC Spotlight’s Adrian Campbell was shown some of the features of the new building by one of the pupils, Emily – watch his short film at the top of the page.
A Devon council has agreed to an £8 million out-of-court settlement over a ‘zero carbon’ primary school which had to close just three years after it opened because of a leaky roof.
The former Dartington Primary school buildings in Totnes were hailed as ‘visionary’ but they started letting in water shortly after building work finished in 2010.
It shut three years later and more than 300 pupils had to take their lessons in a collection of temporary buildings.
Devon County Council has now said it has reached a settlement with the architects and builders involved, reports the BBC.
The council launched a claim against firms involved in the design and building in 2014.
The former buildings had solar panels to power classrooms and rainwater recycling.
But according to a report commissioned by the council, the building started letting in water shortly after it was finished.
The report blamed the design and highlighted "complexities within the rainwater harvesting system".
Problems centred around a groundbreaking sustainable roof which was clad in thin strips of locally-coppiced sweet chestnut.
The wood was intended to provide a "natural and breathable envelope" without needing any sort of artificial membrane or waterproofing.
But parents said the sweet chestnut cladding soon began to buckle and warp, leaving gaping holes for rainwater to trickle in.
The water was supposed to flow into giant cisterns which could be used to flush the toilets but instead it caused damp patches and mouldy walls.
The school in Totnes, Devon was praised at the time for its environmentally friendly credentials when it opened as one of the UK’s first zero carbon schools.
But it was later declared off limits with lessons moved to temporary marquees and huts.
Legal action is on-going after Devon County Council launched a lawsuit against architects White Design and Interserve to cover repairs and bills for temporary classrooms.
Devon County Council ordered a full investigation which confirmed the leaks were "likely to be the result of the scheme design".
White Design has previously denied any liability for the faults.
Building of a new school started in January and the children are expected to move in at the beginning of 2018.
Meanwhile, all the soppy headmistress, Jill Mahon, can say is that 90 per cent of the material would be recycled locally.
“How can you be sad when it is being reused. We are seeing a whole process which couldn’t be much richer for the children."
I would have thought the kids might have had a much richer experience if their education for the last 7 years had not been ruined by a leaky roof, followed by three years in temporary marquees and huts.
Still, at least it was zero carbon!!