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Hinguar Primary School

The proposal for the Hinguar Primary School project for Southend-on-Sea Borough Council comprises a new school building (about 2877 m² gross internal accommodation in Phases 1 and 2) and associated playgrounds, swimming pool, landscaping, on site car parking and vehicular/ pedestrian accesses. The school design was developed in close collaboration with the stakeholders, including pupils, parent and staff as well as Southend Borough Council’s education and property departments.

Initially the building will provide accommodation for 300 pupils aged 4 to 11 years and 26 nursery places. It has been designed as a phased development to allow for four additional classrooms to be constructed in Phase 2. The building has achieved a BREEAM Very good in the Design Stage Assessment and a 38 per cent reduction in CO2 omissions when compared with the requirements of the 2002 Building Regulations. It has also been awarded a Green Apple Award.

The new school is located in Shoeburyness, Essex. The site is in an exposed costal location, approximately 500 m away from the Thames Estuary and in a flood risk zone

Further project details

1. What approach did you take in assessing risks and identifying adaptation measures to mitigate the risks?

The team reviewed the quantitative and quantitative impact of risks under the three main headings of climate change: comfort and energy (overheating), construction and structural integrity and water conservation. Risks were rated based on the likelihood of them occurring, and based on their impact on the scheme and school operations. This includes both the project as a building structure, as well as the possible disruption caused to teaching and learning.

In early discussions within the team and with the end-users (school and council), a rise in internal temperatures and the resulting overheating of teaching spaces emerged as a dominant risk. Providing a suitable internal environment for learning and teaching (in terms of temperature, acoustics, day-lighting etc), while retaining the flexibility of the spaces is essential for any education project, but in particular primary schools, which cater for the youngest learners.

The team adopted a two stage approach to identify the adaptation measures to be developed in more detail. In the first stage the team collated a range of potential ideas for adaptation measures, structured under the main climate change design challenges of thermal comfort, water and construction.

Further research, costing and modelling was carried out in the second stage on all potential options, resulting in a final shortlist of adaptation measures that the team will be developing in more detail in the next stage of the study. The selection process took into account the weighting of the climate risks, an assessment of the financial cost to the project, the likely effectiveness of the measure, potential negative impacts on the building/ school and other project specific issues.

2. How have you communicated the risks and recommendations with your client? What methods worked well?

During the design and construction period, the D4FC project was integrated into the agenda of the monthly core group meetings, which include the school, the contractor and the client (Southend-on-Sea Borough Council). This led to interesting workshops and discussions about the potential climate change risks to the project and allowed us to keep the school and council updated on the progress of the study.

On completion, the findings were presented in form of a lunchtime CPD to a wider audience at Southend Council, including project managers, M&E engineers and sustainability officers. This successful event was a good opportunity to involve ‘decision makers’ within different areas of the council and extend the reach of the study beyond the Hinguar School project.

On the basis of our findings, we developed a Design toolkit for climate change future proofing that we also presented to the client. The toolkit aims to provide project teams with the beginnings of a ‘compendium of measures’ that can be integrated into the design at an early stage and often at no or limited additional cost, in order to facilitate adaptation in the future. The toolkit is not intended as a complete document but has been developed as a ‘working paper’, which can be added to and extended further research and development is collected.

Throughout the study we worked closely with the school and in particular its sustainability club (Hinguar Eco Worriers) in form of regular updates and workshop as. We felt it was important to keep the end-users engaged in the process, as they will be affected by the potential climate change risks.

3. What tools have you used to assess overheating and flood risks?

Comfort and energy performance – overheating internally and externally: site specific Prometheus weather data was provided by Dr Matthew Eames at the Centre for Energy and the Environment, University of Exeter. Using IES Virtual Environment software this data was used by NPB to produce internal temperature and solar gain predictions within the school. The criteria set out in Building Bulletin (BB) 101 have been used to assess whether a selection of representative teaching spaces on north- and south-facing sides of the building will be ‘over heating’.

Construction and structural integrity – clay shrinkage: analysis provided by the site specific soil investigation report and further discussions with the structural engineer.

Water shortages and increased rainfall: the rainfall data available on UKCIP09 gives an average monthly rainfall (measured in mm/hr), but this does not directly translate into the intensity of the rainfall/storm. We felt that it would nevertheless be important to investigate these risks further on the basis of the overall trend predictions.

Rise in sea water, surface water and ground water levels: flood risk assessment carried out by Entec UK and further discussions with the flood risk assessor.

New Hinguar school playground

4. What has the client agreed to implement as a result of your adaptation work?

The end of our study coincided with the completion of the construction project and final account negotiations. Whilst the client was very interested in our findings and in particular the design toolkit, the increasingly tight budgets in the education construction sector meant that no measures were implemented in Phase 1 so far.

Due to the changes in birth-rate predictions in Shoeburyness, there are no immediate plans for Phase 2. However, from the feedback received from the client we are confident that many of the findings in this study will be very valuable in influencing the final detail design of the extension and considered for implementation by the client – both for Phase 2 of this project as well as other future building projects.

Some of the key measures for future implementation identified in our study were the retrofitting (Phase 1) and integration into the design (Phase 2) of electrical fans in ventilation shafts/roof light upstands to assist the natural ventilation scheme. The study also proposed the introduction of a ground source heat pump as part of the Phase 2 extension, which would allow reverse cooling through the UFH.

Ohher measures recommended by the study include the introduction of external fabric roller blinds to allow for the teaching spaces to be extended into shaded external balcony areas, the installation of rainwater harvesting systems and the development of an ‘external teaching kit’ to encourage increased use of external teaching areas.

5. What were the major challenges so far in doing this adaptation work?

Identifying a suitable (and limited) range of measures to be developed in more detail to ensure that the work will be focused.

Restrictions imposed on Phase 2 development through planning and structure/foundations already in place.

From the outset we were aware that the limited budget available posed the main challenge to any adaptation work. This is likely to become even more relevant with the current trend to reduce funding for education buildings. Carrying out a careful cost–benefit analysis is important in order to allow the client to make informed decisions on adaptation measured. This needs to include running costs and maintenance costs.

Feeding our findings back into the construction and procurement process. It might have been beneficial to involve a representative of the client as a team member for the study, as this would have given us a more regular and direct link for feedback and decision making process. Hopefully the Decision making toolkit will prove a useful tool to overcome this challenge for future projects.

6. What advice would you give others undertaking adaptation strategies?

The extent range of ideas collected by the team was initially very wide and had to be narrowed down quickly to allow us to move on – try and focus your research early on (we identified overheating as the main risk).

Obtaining site specific Prometheus weather data for use in the thermal model proved extremely helpful. It allowed us to test possible adaptation measures, both for the Phase 1 areas already under construction and Phase 2, quickly and in detail, rather than based on general trend predictions.

Integrating the use/function of the spaces in the investigations rather than just focusing on the physical building opened up an interesting angle of discussion and research (e.g. can flexible teaching spaces help to reduce internal heat gain, how can we make most of the shaded outdoor spaces, timetables and siestas).

Discussion with the stakeholder played an important role in this.

Setting benchmarks and carrying out cost-benefit analysis to assess the different mitigation options against (e.g. installation of GSHP with reverse UFH cooling vs. Installation of AC units) was a very useful tool, which helped us to weigh up the different measures and communicate them to the council/school.