Pen Y Dre High School in Merthyr Tydfil has been shortlisted in the Net Zero category in the Constructing Excellence Wales awards. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony taking place on Friday 16th June at the Celtic Manor Resort.

Lawray is working with tier one contractor Morgan Sindall to deliver the deep retrofit of the 1970s school, which when complete aims be the first net zero carbon school in operation in Wales.

The scheme is partially funded by the Welsh Government, as part of its Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme which aims to invest in and improve educational facilities.

The façade, frame and structure of the 50-year-old buildings will be retained and thermally enhanced using the latest technology, and fossil fuel heating will be replaced through the use of ground and air source heat pumps. This together with the use of photovoltaics to offset residual electrical consumption, will result in zero carbon emissions over the lifetime of the buildings. The whole life carbon impact of the refurbishment is predicted to be a 71% reduction compared to the existing building.

Whole life modelling

Whole life modelling was undertaken at the start of the project to evaluate the impact of design proposals on both operational carbon (energy used during operation) and embodied carbon (the materials used for building and maintenance) over the lifetime of the building. Comparative options were then developed, tested against buildability, and evaluated in line with capital and lifecycle costs, and will continue to be refined.

Increased capacity

Pen Y Dre is one of the largest school refurbishments in Wales and will increase its capacity from 800 to 1,100 places for 11-to 16-year-olds.

The new design of the three-storey 14,000 sq metre comprehensive will make the school more accessible, removing a lot of steps from the original site and massively improving provisions.

Plans also include a refurb of the existing swimming pool, which is open to the public, enhancing the school’s existing legacy for fantastic sport facilities.

Kurt Jones, Director Lawray Architects said: “The pace of change in the industry means there are constantly evolving performance standards and acceptable parameters for Net Zero Carbon buildings. However, through the innovative design and construction of Pen Y Dre the team aims to advance the research and ambition of the industry’s approach towards the climate crisis. Our goal is to use Pen Y Dre as a precedent for future retrofit projects to achieve net zero carbon in operation.”

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