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Blog: Sustainability SECBE Awards 2020 finalist - Harris Academy Sutton

17 June 2020

sponsored by Mulalley

Sustainability SECBE Awards 2020 finalist - Harris Academy Sutton (submitted by Willmott Dixon)

Harris Academy Sutton is the largest school – and the first secondary – in the UK to be built to the Passivhaus standard. This building takes sustainability to new heights and sets the sector standard for low energy use and optimal user comfort.

Submitted by Willmott Dixon, the four-storey six-form entry school accommodates 1,275 pupils and 95 staff and forms part of London Cancer Hub – which aims to be a world-leading campus for research, treatment, education and enterprise.

Sutton Council wanted a school with minimal operational carbon emissions, high energy savings and exemplary learning environments. Hence it opted for Passivhaus for Harris Academy over BREEAM, as it was felt the German standard would meet this objective in a more focused way.

Energy consumption at the school is typically 80% lower than a standard building, resulting in significant operating cost savings and carbon emissions. Internally, students and teaching staff enjoy better air quality, ideal temperatures and perfect natural lighting for optimum working conditions. An airtightness level of 0.30 air changes per hour was achieved – twice as efficient as the stipulated 0.6 changes per hour.

Addressing how to solve the current environmental emergency, and become more sustainable in our collective approach to construction, is a responsibility for the whole industry. Harris Academy Sutton is a pioneering industry example of how undertaking such projects and upskilling teams makes a positive contribution to the cause and leaves a lasting legacy for the industry. This project has resulted in a sustainable building that can operate independently from traditional energy sources by heating and cooling itself and will help shape future inhabitants’ attitudes towards sustainability.

Delivering Passivhaus on a large scale

It has been used as a case study at national trade shows and helped foster a culture for embracing sustainable construction methods for the future and proves Passivhaus can be delivered sustainably, on-time and within budget on a large scale.

Harris Academy is an outstanding example of how Passivhaus can be applied successfully on a large scale. Minimal operational carbon consumption, certainty of energy costs, and a healthy internal environment have all been achieved and exceeded throughout this project. The building’s legacy reaches beyond its walls. It’s a gateway for the London Cancer Hub, which will deliver economic regeneration through education, employment and has provided the community with an educational facility as well as sports facilities and other spaces for communal use. It has also fostered a culture for developing skills that address environmental impact in construction, creating a continuous stream for promoting sustainability and Passivhaus for future projects.

James Fisher, Principal: “We have been most impressed with the speed of response from Willmott Dixon and the flexibility they have shown.”


Highlights:

  • Sustainability – Harris Academy Sutton is an example of how Passivhaus can be applied successfully on a large scale. Minimal operational carbon consumption, certainty of energy costs, and a healthy internal environment have all been achieved and exceeded on this project.
  • Legacy - the building’s legacy reaches beyond its walls. It has provided the community with an educational facility to support cancer research and fostered a culture for developing skills that address the environmental emergency in construction, creating a continuous stream for promoting sustainable projects and Passivhaus for future projects.
  • Teamwork and collaboration – through its thorough and dedicated approach to the Passivhaus standard the team succeeded in creating a building with exceptional sustainability credentials including exceeding airtightness requirements making it  14 times better than stipulated building regulations.


About the Sustainability Award: 

High environmental and climate performance in construction aims to meet present day needs for housing, working environments and infrastructure without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs in times to come. It seeks to limit impact on the natural environment and demonstrate whole life sustainability. It is most effective when organisational culture, high design quality, technical innovation and transferability are abundant.

> Find out more about the other finalists here

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