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AWW’s Head of Sustainability, Till Scherer, has recently headed up a project looking to build the schools of the future.

With the UK’s growing population schools are finding it increasingly difficult to accommodate the growth in the birth rate.  Some areas are facing a 25% increase in primary school place requirements and obviously this will translate in a few years to a similar stretch on Secondary schools.

In Barking East London, an expected 8,000 extra places will be needed by 2015.

The government has announced that £4billion is to be invested over the next 4 years in places that are facing the greatest pressure.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Many areas are dealing with an unprecedented rise in primary numbers – back up to levels last seen in the 1970s.

“No-one is saying it will be easy balancing demand for places with retaining the sort of character and ethos that parents want. Our job is to put the capital investment in place so councils and schools can make the right decisions.”

Clearly the demands on schools, the LEAs and the finance departments therein cannot be overstated. Parents and teachers have growing concerns that set against a back drop of cuts to the school building programme space shortages will impact detrimentally on children’s learning.

It is with this in mind that AWW propose a new approach to school builds and school extensions. Modular construction delivers a number of advantages including higher quality, lower cost and a shorter construction programme. AWW’s approach harnesses these advantages in parallel with an intuitive and robust design whilst still delivering a bespoke layout that meet individual schools’ space, usage and teaching requirements. The solution creates the best possible teaching and learning environments at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional builds, whilst still offering a building performance that far exceed Building Regulations resulting in reduced running costs and lower emissions.

In reality this means a fully insulated and weather-tight structure (including foundation, structural slab, external and internal wall, and roof) for a new 4 classroom extension delivered in just 3 weeks ready to receive furniture, fixtures and equipment.

With a team in place that has already worked on award winning primary schools, AWW take this challenge a step further. To produce a truly cost effective and sustainable design the building must be able to save money and energy throughout the life of the scheme in addition to a low embodied energy structure for little or no additional upfront construction cost. Through our initiatives that ensure an intuitive and robust building, we are able to create low carbon buildings (the super structure is carbon negative) that can deliver significant real world energy and cost savings.

Till adds, “Our experience shows that our approach to whole life cost reduction has tangible benefits. For example our recent success atSouthBristolCommunityHospitalshows that through effective and affordable sustainable solutions we are able to help the hospital save up to £86,000 a year in heating costs alone. This is the equivalent to 4 full time registered Emergency Room nurses a year. Translate that saving to schools and the opportunities are exponential. It is exciting to be at the forefront of effective yet affordable sustainable design solutions”.