21/09/2011 - Thomas Vale showcase work on UK’s first Passivhaus Schools

Thomas Vale have showcased their latest work at the ‘soon to be’ first Passivhaus Schools in the UK to the AECB and MADE Passivhaus Delegation’s. Representatives from the environmental organisations were given a guided tour round Oakmeadow Primary School in Wolverhampton, which is nearing completion.


The £5.1 million project involves the construction of a new two storey school, in partnership with Architype and Wolverhampton City Council and will be one of two new schools being built to ‘Passivhaus Standards’. Work on the other school, Bushbury Hill Primary School is also well underway.


The project is being undertaken as part of the £12 million Primary Capital Programme which is transforming education for primary age pupils in Wolverhampton by giving them learning environments fit for the 21st century.


Thomas Vale Construction and Architype are the leading team in the UK delivering Passivhaus Construction. As a Founder member of the Passivhaus Trust Thomas Vale has the knowledge and expertise to construct to the Passivhaus standard.


Passivhaus buildings are designed and built in a way that uses up to 90% less energy for heating and cooling than standard buildings. Therefore, they require minimal traditional heating and do not require the need for expensive air conditioning systems. This subsequently enables the buildings to make use of heat sources rather than having to generate its own. Thomas Vale has already been recognised for its efforts in achieving Passivhaus standards, winning Business in the Community’s Most Innovative Product or Service for their work on the schools. Passivhaus buildings have numerous benefits, significantly reducing energy consumption and running costs, together with improved internal comfort achieved through mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.


The new school features a super insulated sustainably sourced timber frame using Warmcell recycled paper insulation which has been sourced from the school, representing closed loop recycling. In recent air leakage assessments, the building achieved air leakage levels of just 0.3 air changed per hour; significantly better than the minimum requirement of 0.6 and current UK Building Regulations. As a result, the school will benefit from reduced energy bills, approximately 80-90% less than an equivalent school. What’s more, these thermal standards have been achieved without the need for any additional capital investment.


Matt Wisdom, Environmental Manager at Thomas Vale Construction commented: "Delivering sustainable buildings without additional capital investment is perhaps the holy grail of sustainability, and today Thomas Vale and Architype are proud to be able to have achieved this with the Passivhaus schools. This is a true testament to the close working relationships across Thomas Vale and Architype, unique in the construction industry. I know we would have not achieved this if it were not for the dedication and passion shown by the entire team, a real testament to their hard work."


The overarching principle is to achieve a standard of energy efficiency where the building contains and manages the heat whilst providing a comfortable learning environment.