Construction of Scotland’s newest energy efficient primary school using an environmentally friendly Scandinavian design methodology is underway.

Scotland’s education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville performed the turf cutting ceremony to mark the official start of works on the £19.9 million school for North Perth on Monday.

The new “state-of-the-art” facility, which will replace the current Balhousie and North Muirton Primary Schools, opens in 2023 and will have a capacity for 500 pupils, a large nursery, and provision for children with additional support need.

It will be the first primary school in Perth and Kinross, and one of the first in Scotland, to be built to ‘passivhaus’ standards, where energy-saving measures are an integral part of the building’s design.

The name of the digitally-enabled building will be agreed by the Lifelong Learning Committee in the New Year following a consultation with pupils, staff, parents, councillors and the local community. 

Preparatory works began on site during the summer of 2021 with the demolition of the nursery at North Muirton Primary School. Nursery children at North Muirton have joined their peers at Balhousie Primary School for the duration of the building works, as the first step in merging the two school communities.

Ms Somerville said: “The new North Perth Primary School demonstrates Perth and Kinross Council’s continued commitment to their school estate. I am particularly pleased that this school will be one of the first primary schools in Scotland to be built to Passivhaus standards where energy-saving measures are an integral part of the building’s design.

“The school is supported by the Scottish Government through our £2 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme. This facility will provide state of the art learning environment that the pupils and staff of the current Balhousie and North Muirton Primary Schools and the whole community can be proud of.”

Councillor Caroline Shiers, convener of the Lifelong Learning Committee, added: “This is an exciting project that will create a new school from very solid foundations in the community in North Perth and provide a modern learning and teaching environment to help children achieve to their fullest. Alongside this, delivering one of the first primary schools in Scotland to meet the passivhaus standards for energy efficiency is going to contribute to our work to tackle climate change locally.”

The project forms part of Perth & Kinross Council’s ongoing capital programme of school upgrades and improvements through hub East Central Scotland Limited (hubco) to enhance the environment for learning and teaching across the area.

Gary Bushnell, chief executive, hub East Central Scotland, said: “We have worked closely with Perth & Kinross Council throughout the development of this project and it’s great to see work now starting on site. We look forward to delivering a high quality new school that is at the forefront of sustainable building for education and designed to meet the long-term needs of the community it serves.”

Kevin Dickson, regional managing director, Robertson Construction (Tayside), added: “Perth & Kinross Council have committed to building forward better by adopting Passivhaus standards for this new school. As the delivery partner of choice, we will be working closely with the local community whilst creating a facility that they can be proud of, and that will herald a change in the sustainable delivery and lifecycle of educational projects in Scotland.”

Stephen Long, a member of the Learning Estate Infrastructure team at Scottish Futures Trust, said: “In managing the new Learning Estate Investment Programme, our focus is on working with our partners to deliver high quality, well maintained, digitally-enabled buildings that achieve ambitious energy targets.

“Perth & Kinross Council has embraced that focus with this new school being designed and built to use around 50 per cent less energy than that of a typical similar sized building, while also providing excellent ventilation and comfortable temperatures all year round. It is the first school of its kind to be constructed to such an ambitious energy reduction target in the council area and demonstrates its commitment to reducing building related carbon emissions.”