The Winterstoke Hundred Academy Expansion is a joint secondary school project between North Somerset Council and Kier Group. North Somerset Council has set a target of being carbon neutral by 2030 – a full 20 years before the national target. This project is seen as a key stepping stone on its pathway to net zero.
The Winterstoke Academy is part of the Cabot Learning Federation (CLF), a mature Multi-Academy Trust in the South-West of England. This project is dedicated to educating pupils from across the CLF academies about energy consumption and the importance of carbon neutrality.
Key to this aim is the creation of a Sustainability Lab that will be used as a learning facility for site operatives, students and the public to understand more about the environmental credentials of the building itself.
The Sustainability Lab relationship that Kier has built with the school and the wider community, including local Weston College, aims to provide a positive introduction to the construction and it’s move towards net zero carbon. This will help promote the concept of sustainable construction in general and examine how it is best delivered.
The new facility will provide additional pupil places through the delivery of a new secondary school, meeting a need arising from local population increases as well as factoring in likely further population growth due to planned new housing for the area. The project encompasses a new sports hall and pitches, car parking and cycle parking as well as external social and learning spaces.
BREEAM Excellent & Net Zero Carbon in Operation
Winterstoke is currently on track to achieve the coveted status of BREEAM Excellent, which is only achieved by the top 10% of projects.
This is being executed through a holistic view of building design with a ‘fabric first’ approach, aiming for net zero carbon in operation. Sustainable materials and services have been selected at every stage, with waste minimisation being a key focus during design and procurement. For example, water usage has been minimised and will be monitored to ensure the low target levels of consumption is achieved.
In addition, emissions have been significantly reduced wherever practical to do so, with residual carbon being offset on-site using an extensive photovoltaic cell array on the building’s roofs and careful selection of mechanical and electrical services including air source heat pumps and naturally ventilated heat recovery units.
There is also a green transport plan, with sustainable transport measures studied and alternative methods of transport offered to reduce car journeys.
10% biodiversity net gain
The project is targeting a 10% biodiversity net gain through mitigation and enhancement measures. The design team worked closely with ecologists to minimise the impact of the site and look for opportunities to improve biodiversity. This collaborative approach allowed the team to achieve biodiversity gains as well as adding roughly 5,900m sq. of planned woodland, creating habitats for badgers, bats, reptiles, hedgehogs and multiple bird species.
The aim of the project is both to educate and engage the local community on sustainability – focusing on teaching young people. A key part of this is the creation of the Sustainability Lab. This lab will be site-based and will provide work experience, direct employment, environmental projects and carbon skills training as well as local business and SME support.
Students of Winterstoke Hundred Academy will also be involved with designing and developing internal ‘eco’ features for the lab. Wider stakeholders, such as surrounding feeder schools, other CLF academies, FE institutions and local residents will all have the opportunity to engage in onsite activity once the lab is fully functioning. Workshops and activities hosted at the Sustainability Lab, which will focus on topics such as environmentalism, sustainability and wider construction training, run in both small groups and on a 1-2-1 basis.
Supplementing added social value within the scheme, the vision for the Sustainability Lab is that it will be a well-used, vibrant area, engaging the community, boosting local employment and skills training and offering broader community benefits. The lab will therefore continue as a usable space, accessible to the community during construction and following the completion of the project.
Jason Taylor, operations director at Kier Construction, Western & Wales, said:
“Working on key projects such as Winterstoke are real career highlights. It’s a crucial project for the area, not only in terms of providing much-needed pupil spaces, but also due to its sustainability credentials. Achieving our sustainability aims at Winterstoke will mean there’s a clear blueprint to deliver similar projects across the country.”