Willmott Dixon to build net-zero carbon school

CGI of Hollycroft Primary School.

Willmott Dixon is adding to its net-zero school construction portfolio, after Leicestershire County Council appointed the firm for the county’s first net-zero in operation school. 

The company will build the £8.5m Hollycroft Primary School, a new 210-place school at Normandy Way, on the outskirts of Hinckley. 

It’s a key element in the ten-year Normandy Way development, where housebuilder Bloor Homes is creating a new community with 850 houses, retail space and community facilities.

The new school will also play a key role in the council’s plan to become a net-zero carbon county by 2045. 

Nick Heath, director at Willmott Dixon, said: “Having worked closely with Leicestershire County Council for many years building innovative new schools, we’re pleased to have another important project underway. 

“It will result in a sustainably-focused school that is not only innovative and flexible, but also supports the local authority’s ambitious net-zero targets. 

“All over the country, buildings of old have not been designed with the future in mind and this is where our pioneering approach is reinventing standards.”

The firm will use its Energy Synergy™ process, to help expose any potential performance gap for the council and consequently offer the opportunity to drive down operational costs.

Mr Heath explains this represents “a win for the client and for the environment”.

Willmott Dixon is harnessing energy usage prediction modelling to help the school, which will be run by the OWLS (Oadby, Wigston and Leicestershire Schools) Academy Trust, become net-zero in operation for both regulated and unregulated energy. 

The project is aiming to succeed in achieving BREEAM Excellent. 

The design process being used can be emulated so the council can more efficiently roll-out net-zero primary schools in the future – reducing design time, costs and inefficiencies and waste.  

Construction includes an easily assembled timber frame that will result in fewer embodied carbon emissions than a traditional steel frame. 

Priority has also been given to materials that will enhance the building’s thermal efficiency – such as enhanced fabric walls, floors and roof as well as enhanced performance windows, resulting in lower impact from outdoor temperatures and consequential heating and cooling costs.

Offsite manufacturing will also reduce the number of deliveries to site and halve the projected construction timeframe length for the timber frame erection in comparison to using traditional methods, which will in turn enable the pupils and staff to move into the new school earlier. 

Willmott Dixon is building the school on behalf of Leicestershire County Council through Procurement Hub’s Major Projects Framework, in a project team that also includes Kast Architects.

Cllr Deborah Taylor, Leicestershire County Council lead member for children and families, said: “I’m proud to say it will be the first Leicestershire school that will be carbon neutral and pupils that attend will learn in an environment that uses renewable energy, has an ‘A’ energy rating and the latest interactive learning equipment. 

“We hope children will love learning in the new building.”

Louise Dodds, client relationship manager, Procurement Hub said: “This is an exciting project that has been procured through the Major Projects Framework. 

“I’m pleased to be able to work with Leicestershire County Council to assist in delivery of the country’s first net-zero school with framework partner Willmott Dixon.”

Normandy Way Primary School is an Open Doors 2023 venue, an event taking place from 13 to 18 March to showcase the range of careers available in construction. 

Limited to schools, colleges and educational institutions only, the visit will include a health and safety briefing, an overview of the project, and a site tour revealing external roof and cladding works, as well as the timber frame being erected.

Get more details or book a space for the Open Doors event. 

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