Porotherm and Thermafleece specified for Nelson school project
A Lancashire school is leading the way in sustainable design with an eco-friendly extension. Children from St John’s Southworth RC Primary School in Nelson, East Lancashire, have been learning about the natural and thermally efficient building materials which are being used to build their new classrooms.
Youngsters from the Lomeshaye Road school swapped the classroom for the construction site to see for themselves how their new extension is coming along. After having cut the sod, taken part in a health and safety briefing and designed their own safety posters for Accrington-based contractor Rosslee Construction, the children are now being introduced to the two main building components – Wienerberger’s Porotherm thermal clay blocks and Second Nature’s natural insulations, sheep’s wool Thermafleece and Edenbloc recycled carpets.
St John’s Southworth RC is an Eco School and pupils have been closely involved in the design of the building. The designer, Emma Palmer from Campbell Driver Partnership, has specified building materials which come from natural sources and is keen for the children to have an understanding of the construction process from beginning to end.
Emma said: “Environmental awareness is very important for the school which has embraced the eco agenda and incorporated green issues into all parts of the curriculum. It follows, therefore, that the new school extension should be as eco-friendly as possible and one of the best ways of doing that is to use products from natural and recycled sources, in this instance clay blocks, sheep’s wool and old carpets! These, when combined, also help to improve the thermal efficiency of the 1970s building - reducing energy use and carbon emissions. Other measures, such as the contractors using recycled rainwater as much as they can, are also contributing to this being an extremely sustainable project.
“This is a chance for the children to get hands on with the products and understand that no matter how modern the buildings around them are, they can be built using the most simple, natural ingredients. It’s great that they’re getting the chance to touch and feel the raw materials that are going into building their new school and I hope it will help them to appreciate how the choices that we make are so important when it comes to reducing our impact on the environment.”
Pupils enjoyed a workshop with representatives from Rosslee Construction, Campbell Driver Partnership, Wienerberger - manufacturer of Porotherm clay blocks - and Second Nature, which makes the two forms of insulation. The Wienerberger display included a chunk of freshly quarried clay alongside a wet piece of extruded [shaped] block and an example of the end product: the tough, fired Porotherm block. Second Nature, meanwhile, gave youngsters the chance to feel the various pieces of insulation and demonstrated samples showing the processing of the product from sheep’s fleece to construction material.
The Porotherm construction system is being used for cavity and external walls which will be part rendered, part timber clad. The natural insulations will be used in the roof and within the cavity walls, giving them an overall thermal efficiency of 0.16 W/m2K, which is very good in terms of sustainable construction.
The new build sections will extend and refurbish the old 1970s block which is used as classrooms for Year 1 and reception pupils. Part-funded by the school, the diocese and the local authority, the project is set for completion before the start of the new term in September 2011. In addition to the extended classrooms, the work also includes both covered and open air play areas, enabling the children to make the most of the great spaces around the school.
Headteacher Margaret Borman added: “This project will make an enormous difference to our reception and Year 1 children as it will double the size of their classroom and give them a lovely indoor / outdoor space. This will hopefully be the first part of a three phase renovation project over the next few years so it’s a great opportunity to get the children involved as they will see how the school changes and grows during their time here.
“It was important for us to partner with a design and construction team that would buy into our Eco School ethos and we’re delighted with the amount of natural materials, recycled content and water saving that the project team has been able to achieve. It is a great way to keep the children in interested and we’re delighted that everyone in the construction team has given up their time to come into meet the children and get involved.”