Scotland’s ‘first’ energy efficient primary school using a Scandinavian design methodology has been given the green light ahead of the global climate change summit in Glasgow later this year.

Council leaders have approved a planning application for a new school to be constructed in Perth according to the ‘Passivhaus’ standard, which originated in Sweden.

The ultra-low energy building will be based on an integrated design methodology which provides a high level of comfort for occupants while using very little energy for heating and cooling. 

The new school, which will replace both the current North Muirton and Balhousie Primary Schools in North Perth, will deliver a 60-80 per cent reduction in energy consumption, resulting in carbon reductions as well as lower running and maintenance costs.

Robertson Construction Tayside has teamed up with leading sustainable architectural firm Architype on behalf of partnership organisation hub East Central Scotland to deliver the project.

Perth & Kinross Council and Robertson Construction have been praised by Architype for ‘building forward better’ in the lead up to COP26 – the United Nations Climate Change conference which will put Glasgow on the world stage in November.

The new school, due to be completed in 2023, will accomodate 500 pupils and incorporate a nursery and additional support needs (ASN) provision, each with its own dedicated outdoor space.

In the meantime, both original schools will remain in operation.

Councillor Caroline Shiers, lifelong learning convener, Perth & Kinross Council, said: “This is a very exciting development as part of the Council’s work to transform the school estate in Perth and Kinross. We aim through this project to both enhance education provision for children in the north of Perth but also support a more environmentally friendly learning and teaching environment – as one of the first Passivhaus primary schools to be built in Scotland.” 

The new school also meets the aspirations of Perth & Kinross Council as they work towards a Zero Carbon agenda.

The Council’s interim chief executive, Barbara Renton explained: “We want to ensure that our buildings, from offices to schools, are energy efficient, cost-effective to run and maintain, and contribute to an improved environment. Using the Passivhaus Standard for the new primary school in North Perth enables us to address all three areas at once through carbon reduction being built into the design and construction process.” 

Elliot Robertson, chief executive officer, Robertson Group, said: “As part of our commitment to be a responsible business, we are continually seeking new ways in which to make positive contributions to the built environment and its users.  As the partner of choice in the delivery of the first Scottish Passivhaus primary school, we are confident that this new school will contribute significantly to protecting the environment while creating a facility the entire community can be proud of, which will enhance learning experiences and support and encourage attainment.” 

The designs for the building were ‘carefully considered’ following extensive consultation with the local community.

It will provide ‘first class’ learning facilities comprising 16 classrooms, with a further 2 available for future school expansion, ASN provision; group study rooms; multi-use hall; kitchen area; staff facilities; multi-use games area (MUGA) pitch for both school and community use; and nursery accommodation which will be in operation 50 weeks a year. 

Ann-Marie Fallon, associate director and Passivhaus designer at Architype, said: “We have been delighted to be involved in designing Scotland’s first Passivhaus primary school in a year when Scotland is on the international map hosting COP26.

“This is real evidence of clients and contractors going beyond minimum building requirements to provide quality assured comfort and performance over the building’s life, providing a beautiful and exciting new school for the community, as well as being a catalyst for educational change across Scotland.” 

A decision has also been made to retain many of the existing pedestrian paths that connect the school with the neighbouring area to encourage active travel through walking and cycling to school. 

In addition, students will benefit from an outdoor activity trail and a sheltered outdoor classroom for both informal self-guided play and programmed outdoor learning. 

Gary Bushnell, chief executive, hub East Central Scotland, said: “It is great to see this project moving forward and it builds on our strategic partnership with Perth and Kinross Council which has so far successfully delivered 6 new schools across the region since 2015.  The Passivhaus standard places the new school at the forefront of sustainable building for education and will serve the community for many years to come.”

Solar panels will also be fitted to the school’s roof, further assisting Perth & Kinross Council on its Zero Carbon journey.

Preparatory works will commence in the summer with the removal of the nursery building at the existing North Muirton Primary School to create access to the site for the main works to commence in September.