The MMC Awards recognise excellence in construction for projects utilising modern methods of construction. TG Escapes specialise in providing biophilic, net-zero buildings to the education sector. Following their success in the 2023 MMC awards (Project of the Year for the English Department at Ratcliffe College and Public Sector Innovation of the Year for their Biophilic School design), their classroom block at Brune Park was Highly Commended in the Secondary/Higher Education category and they were awarded Manufacturer of the Year for Category 2 Modular Panelised Systems.

TG Escapes provide bespoke, modular, timber frame system has been utilised for hundreds of school buildings including SEND facilities, classroom blocks, dining halls and drama studios. The biophilic approach ensures that these spaces are full of natural light and have easy access to the outdoors. The impact on students is pronounced, with a calming effect that helps to reduce stress and increase focus. They are particularly active within the SEND and SEMH fields, producing a range of specially designed spaces intended to benefit students with diverse needs.
They offer a turnkey approach to clients across the UK, designing, manufacturing, installing and finishing each building. Everything starts with a free site survey and bespoke design process, after which they provide a comprehensive fixed price covering every aspect of a new school building.

They offer several clear benefits to schools:

  • Stunning Bespoke Designs: The in-house team of architects and engineers is able to produce wholly bespoke designs to meet a school’s specific needs. The buildings are aesthetically beautiful and designed to blend seamlessly with existing structures and with natural surroundings. They can feature a variety of finishes from natural timber to brick or render.
  • Cost-Effective: Modern methods of construction offer cost savings at every stage, which are further enhanced by an in-house manufacturing and turnkey service. Streamlined offsite construction minimises waste, and quick onsite installation minimises labour. The buildings equal or better the performance of a traditional brick and mortar build at reliably lower prices.
  • Quick Installation: Components are delivered to a school site in a controlled manner and sensitive to the school’s timetable, which minimises disruption allowing education continuity. For smaller projects, time onsite can be as little as 8 weeks.
  • Biophilic Principles: TG Escapes has long been a proponent of biophilic design principles, emphasising a connection to nature with each of their buildings. They incorporate natural light, views of nature, physical access to the outdoors and advanced ventilation systems, all of which have a profound impact on stress, mental health, and even exam performance.
  • Net-Zero Design as Standard: Through a combination of energy-efficient materials, a fabric first approach, solar panels, advanced ventilation technology and expert design, they achieve net-zero in operation as standard and can also certify the buildings as lifetime net-zero if required.
  • Built For Long-Term Performance: Timber is one of the oldest and most sustainable building materials used throughout the millennia and still stands the test of time. These permanent buildings satisfy or exceed all regulatory compliance and TG Escapes are Gold Members of the Structural Timber Association and Platinum Members of Construction Line.
  • Turnkey Service: They cover everything from the initial design to the final handover of keys, for a single upfront price. This includes site preparation, all foundations, planning permission and service connections. Throughout the project, you will have a clear point of contact with their friendly team who will manage the project from start to finish.

With over 800 buildings UK wide they are dedicated to offering an unparalleled service to education clients, with an average score of 4.9 out of 5 from 189 customer reviews.

Mrs Gill Farmer, Trust Business Manager, said: “TG Escapes responded quickly to any questions or concerns we raised with them from the design stage to completion. They worked with us to ensure that the school could continue to operate safely whilst they were on site. Any issues that were raised with the site team were immediately addressed and they followed our school risk assessment. They made the experience far less stressful than we had anticipated. The project was delivered ahead of time to a high standard.”

For more information, call 0800 917 7726, email or visit

Milton Keynes has recently welcomed a new intake of students to its first-ever fossil-free school. The completely gas-free all-years facility also uses the latest LED luminaires to keep harvested energy use to the minimum, creating a modern, green learning environment in the heart of the community. 


Our reliance on gas, oil and coal is wreaking havoc on the natural environment. If we don’t accelerate the transition to clean energy now, our climate goals will no longer be achievable. If factories, businesses, schools, hospitals, homes, and transportation switch to clean energy sources, they’re not just saving the environment; they’re saving resources and gaining independence from a volatile energy market.


A perfect example is the innovative newly built Glebe Farm School in the parish of Wavendon in the South East of Milton Keynes.


An all-through school with 1,569 school places for pupils aged 5 to 16, a nursery and a workplace for 170 staff members, Glebe Farm School is located on an area larger than 13 football pitches at the heart of a new community.


The school is the city’s first fossil-free new build school – even its Bunsen burners are powered by green electricity, funded and developed by Milton Keynes City Council with building works carried out by Morgan Sindall Construction and Munro Building Services.


The whole site has been designed to have a minimal environmental impact and will provide access to high-quality facilities for the local community. 


Completely gas-free, it uses air source heat pumps which absorb heat from the outside air and provide all the energy needed for air and hot water. All lighting comes from ultra-efficient LED luminaires from TRILUX Lighting, whilst hundreds of solar panels generate power for the building.


TRILUX luminaires are found throughout the building. The scheme focuses on the diverse needs of pupils, students, and teachers; and covers the complete spectrum of educational applications from the classrooms to the sports hall. The low-energy design uses a mix of Siella, Amatris, AgiraPlus, Arimo Fit, 74RS, Finea, Skeo Curv, Mirona Fit Sports, Oleveon Fit, ERP and Lutera C luminaires.


TRILUX LED luminaires also score highly from an operational point of view, protecting education budgets and the environment with low power consumption and maintenance costs. 



Michael Guppy, Preconstruction Manager, Munro Building Services, comments, “We have been using Trilux products for over ten years now, the quality of the fittings is excellent. Using one manufacturer for projects like this allows the scheme to be workable throughout the project and assists the end user, as they only have to go to TRILUX for any additions or replacements. We find working with TRILUX helps us deliver an overall project solution.”



It’s been estimated that green energy could save this school up to £100,000 a year. Since completion, the school has become a national benchmark for future school buildings.

CLICK HERE For further information on TRILUX’s educational lighting



Pupils helped to fit the first solar panel to the roof of the new expansion of Winterstoke Hundred Academy in Locking Parklands on Tuesday, in a ceremony marking another important step forward for the upcoming eco-school.

The school expansion, which is funded by Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, supports North Somerset Council’s commitment to make North Somerset carbon neutral by 2030. The three-storey building is designed to achieve Net Zero carbon in operation, a much-sought BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating for energy efficiency and a 10% biodiversity net gain, which will protect and promote plants and wildlife.

Year 8 pupil, Romey, said: “The new school looks a lot bigger than where we are now, it’s really exciting to see it,” he continued, “it’s really cool to think that the new building won’t have any bad effects on the environment.”

Councillor Catherine Gibbons, Executive Member for Children, Young People, Lifelong Learning and Skills joined the pupils for the rooftop ceremony. She said: “The expansion of Winterstoke Hundred Academy raises the bar for construction projects in our area, meeting top standards for sustainability as we work to make North Somerset an open, greener and fairer place with opportunities for all.

“When the building opens as a second site for Winterstoke Hundred Academy, there will be up to 900 school places as part of a plan to meet the needs of growing local families. The school will cover all elements of the curriculum but will also use modern classrooms and facilities to focus on how young people can learn and help to tackle the climate challenges we face now and in the future.

“Not only is this new building an investment in future learning – helping young people access the opportunities across our region – it is an investment in our environment, with the first solar panel now fitted to the roof symbolic of our continued commitment to Net Zero.”

Ian Garforth, Principal of Winterstoke Hundred Academy said, “There’s a real sense of excitement in school and in our community as the building now takes shape. The students have been very excited to look around the building and find out more about how it’s been designed and built to the highest environmental standards. We’re very grateful to Kier and to North Somerset Council for their tireless work to get us to this stage, we can’t wait to move in in September!”

Jason Taylor, regional director at Kier Construction Western & Wales, said: “I am thrilled that we have reached this important milestone on this project, and to be marking it by placing the first of many solar panels on the school’s roof – echoing our commitment to producing sustainable buildings for the future.

“North Somerset Council and Cabot Learning Foundation have a vision to provide sustainable educational buildings. We share their vision and passion, and through our commitments at Kier, we are creating a new net zero building with clear environmental benefits as well as offer employment and training opportunities to the local community as part of our social value commitments.

“Once complete, this school will be a really fantastic asset to the area and will provide a truly state-of-the-art learning facilities and opportunities to those students attending now and for decades to come.”

Kingsley Clarke, Operations Lead for the Southern Construction Framework, added: “SCF aspire to create truly integrated contractor, consultant and client teams in order to deliver outstanding projects. This project is the perfect example of the whole integrated team working together to create something exceptional. Not only will this be a fantastic learning environment but the commitment to creating a Net Zero building and delivering 10% biodiversity net gain will deliver for our next generations on so many levels.”

When completed, the expansion of Winterstoke Hundred Academy will provide school places to pupils aged 11-19. The facilities include sports pitches that also will be available for the local community to use, as well as bike storage and routes to school to encourage walking, cycling and sustainable travel.

The new school expansion is expected to open at the start of the 2023/24 school term. To find out more about the project visit

Photos: Students at Dalmain Primary School in Lewisham, London, in front of their new ground source heat pump – a renewable and much cheaper source of energy. Credit: Dalmain School and  Simple behaviour changes could save schools a lot of money but the most significant savings in bills and carbon will come from retrofitting – extensive insulation and smart energy use – plus using lower cost energy from renewable sources. Credit: Ashden  


Let’s Go Zero, the campaign supporting schools to be zero carbon by 2030, is calling on the new Secretary of State for the Department for Education to retrofit every school in the country, to ensure they stop leaking heat, carbon emissions and money. A rapid national retrofit rollout would protect children from the cold and help schools be able to plan in their long-term energy-related financial security.

In a recent survey of schools by Let’s Go Zero, 72 per cent of respondents mentioned that they are concerned or very concerned about keeping their schools warm this winter.

Today (21 Sept) the UK Government has announced a new Energy Bill Relief Scheme – a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic customers, which will help schools pay bills in the immediate term. But solutions for the long-term are still needed, says Alex Green, Programme Manager for Let’s Go Zero:

“This financial support will come as a welcome relief for schools, colleges and nurseries across the UK, but this is about paying bills – not about having long-term financial security or reducing carbon emissions. The Energy Bill Relief Scheme is merely a sticking plaster. Winter comes every year, so we need ambitious intervention by the new Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP to support energy efficiency, retrofit and renewables across all of our educational settings.”


The Let’s Go Zero campaign is advising schools all around the UK how to cut costs and carbon this winter – from simple interventions such as making sure heating systems and lighting are powered down when the school is not in use, to heating classrooms to only 19°C or running a switch off campaign with students.  But they warn these are only stop gap measures.

1,700 schools, colleges and nurseries, representing nearly 850,000 students and 135,000 staff, have joined the campaign to show their intent and ambition to be zero carbon by 2030 and be part of the positive solution and stand alongside their students.

A key action would be to reduce the massive energy wastage that many schools suffer from as a result of old boiler systems, old draughty properties which leak heat, and lack of funds and capacity to improve energy efficiency. The new Secretary of State needs to act now to support our schools, colleges and nurseries.

“A retrofit energy saving overhaul will not only cut bills but will also ensure children have a warm place to learn in winter, save every school thousands of pounds that they can put into teaching instead of heating, and create jobs in every part of the country,” Ms Green continues.

“This needs to be a national emergency response. We owe this to our children, to our hard-working school staff, and to our communities in terms of putting into place the climate emergency response the government and local authorities have committed to.”

The Let’s Go Zero campaign say government help needs to come in the form of increased funding for schools to carry out retrofit which includes high grade insulation on walls, floors and roofs to stop energy leakage, and install renewable energy fuel sources such as solar and wind power or heat pumps. A government focus on training the construction and heating industries on retrofit techniques and renewable heating systems is also vital.

One renewable energy source which could be very useful for schools nationwide is ground source heat pumps.

Schools are ideal environments for this technology as they have control over the land that the heat pump is installed into and the pumps can be installed without any major disruption. They also have the significant advantage of being able to cool a building in summer.

Ian Goodchild, Director of Non-Domestic Sales at Kensa Heat Pumps says: “Ground Source heat pumps are a best fit for a majority of schools, due to offering the lowest carbon emissions, lowest lifecycle cost and most importantly right now, the lowest running cost solutions – this is due to the higher efficiency ground source systems can provide.

“Kensa’s experience of working with local authorities, such as Northumberland County Council, has proven that undertaking these retrofit projects for schools to improve thermal performance and reduce the carbon emissions by installing ground source, has helped them reduce their carbon emissions from heating by over 70 per cent at these sites.”

Schools that have implemented energy saving measures already include Dalmain Primary School in Lewisham, London, which has worked with school retrofit specialists Retrofit Action For Tomorrow (RAFT) and their local authority on retrofitting their old school building. By repairing their roof, installing wall and roof insulation and new roof lighting they have made an energy saving of 62 per cent.

Erika Eisele Head of Dalmain Primary School says: “Our buildings hadn’t been invested in for about 20 years, so were just haemorrhaging heat. It was really clear how inefficiently the building was working.” RAFT’s work included structural advice on the building and energy system, including installing a ground source heat pump, but also helping students and staff fully understand why the work was being done and the importance of energy saving.

Let’s Go Zero have published Energy Saving Quick Wins  for schools and the Let’s Go Zero coalition of environmental NGOs – which includes GAP, Eco-Schools and WWF and others – provide support and resources to schools trying to prepare for the energy crisis.

Let’s Go Zero Energy Saving Quick Wins for schools

  1. Get every department to do a Switch Off assessment for non-usage times – lights, computers, equipment, kitchen, science labs, etc.  A 10% saving on an increased energy bill is significant – it could lead to £10k plus in savings (maybe £20-30k for a large secondary).
  2. Share information on increased energy costs to everyone in the school. Convert the increase into what else that money could buy (for instance a staff member’s salary or being able to buy in learning support).
  3. Ask for help – there is an enormous amount of help and guidance out there, from local authorities, environmental groups, local businesses and Let’s Go Zero.
  4. Explore energy efficiency and renewables support programmes – there are many ways to improve your estate with both government and private finance. Work with companies that have been recommended by another school, or through your local authority.
  5. Don’t turn heating on until at least October half term – and make sure that thermostats are set at the recommended temperature of 19 degrees centigrade for classrooms (most schools overheat the classrooms). Only heat the school when everyone is there – not from when the first person arrives and the last person leaves. Consider creating zones within your school – so you can individually control heating in different areas.
  6. Be ruthless about retaining the heat – ensuring that doors and windows are closed and that you have insulated wherever possible. Make sure your rental price to external organisations outside of school hours reflects the cost you are paying to heat and light the space.

An exciting new venue to enhance the teaching and learning experience at Durham University


Zumtobel Group’s lighting brands Zumtobel and Thorn have supplied an energy efficient lighting scheme for Durham University’s new Teaching and Learning Centre at the Lower Mountjoy Building, a new £40 million construction that offers students the ideal space to study. Zumtobel and Thorn have supplied a wide range of luminaires for the project, both internally and externally, providing LED energy efficiency, an excellent working environment and improved colour rendition.

The Lower Mountjoy Building lies near to Durham City Centre conservation area. The Teaching and Learning Centre includes lecture theatres, classrooms, seminar rooms, catering facilities, an education laboratory, breakout spaces and student learning zones, with great amenities and top-of-the-range digital equipment. The building consists of 12 modular blocks and provides a transition between the modern university buildings nearby and the more traditional and classical architecture of the adjacent buildings. Up to 1,600 students can be taught at the centre, which has spaces for individual and collaborative study, nearly 200 computer laboratory spaces and an experimental education laboratory to trial new learning methods.


Many of the areas have concrete ceilings so the lighting had to integrate with acoustic rafts. Zumtobel’s LINCOR was selected as the best lighting solution. LINCOR pendant LED luminaires are suspended from the concrete ceilings to deliver high visual comfort from superior direct/indirect illumination with no reflected glare. More importantly, thanks to the central part from which no light is emitted downwards, the luminaire meets the highest demands regarding contrast rendition, even when placed directly above the workstation. This avoids annoying reflections on glossy surfaces and is therefore ideally suited for working on tablet devices and computers.

Zumtobel’s SUPERSYSTEM II multifunctional LED modules for low voltage track have been utilised in the restaurant/dining area and track mounted DISCUS spotlights in the main atrium. This SUPERSYSTEM II slim-profile LED spotlight track system for low-voltage lighting applications, is 1 inch wide and provides a full range of lighting options for general, accent, direct, indirect, and wall-washing applications in lumen packages up to 1,250 lumens. DISCUS is a state-of-the-art spotlight system, its delicate but robust design is creatively inspired by cutting-edge LED technology: a flat, minimalist shape with an unmistakable appearance – characterised by the radial fins of the passive heatsink and its illuminated replaceable optic.

The brief for the offices required recessed luminaires with good cylindrical and horizontal illumination that could be installed in various ceiling types, whilst more aesthetically pleasing than a basic flat panel. Thorn’s IQ Wave provided the ideal solution to support comfort, alertness and happiness by taking into consideration the variety of different functions, forms of communication and the physical nature of modern learning spaces. The ideal classroom light distribution is achieved with the help of a special reflector and ensures perfect light for various tasks, the general space and the different forms of personal communication between teachers and pupils. IQ Wave achieves a unified glare rating of <19, in line with the EN 12464 standard on workplace lighting.

Thorn’s Chalice, with a high efficacy of 106lm/W for low energy consumption and less than 100mm in height, illuminates the circulation areas.

Thorn’s Duoproof, a durable high bay luminaire offering performance, high-tech appearance and flexibility, illuminates the kitchen and Aquaforce Pro is installed throughout the plant areas.

The exterior of the facility had to be lit sympathetically to deal with the ever-changing landscape and Thorn’s Piazza LED was the perfect solution for providing accent illumination with a touch of style for the perimeter. As a versatile lighting system for decorative area and path lighting, the extensive Urban Deco family from Thorn, which includes post, pendant lighting and bollard luminaires, illuminates the pathway entrance bollards and the 3 – 5 metre columns for the pathways, along with recessed LINN around the edge of the footpath close to the building.

With a diverse range of world-class environments, the Lower Mountjoy Centre is an exciting new venue to enhance the teaching and learning experience at Durham University, the efficiency of the chosen luminaires helped the new facility to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of A.

So, far the reaction from students has been really positive.

For more information on Zumtobel please visit the website and for Thorn

SAV Systems is proud to announce that the AirMaster AM 1000 has been awarded Passivhaus Component certification in conjunction with their Danish partner, Airmaster A/S. The flagship AM 1000 is the first decentralised, duct free, mechanical ventilation unit with heat recovery (MVHR) on the market to be awarded the certification. This enables the AirMaster AM 1000 to be used in Passivhaus school buildings.

Our time working with the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) inspired SAV Systems to undertake Passivhaus certification. CEC has set ambitious targets to achieve Net Zero by 2035, leading the council to apply passive house design principles to all their new schools. The core philosophy of passive house design is to create a comfortable and energy efficient building with minimal energy wastage. Alongside the need for improved energy efficiency, Passivhaus also offers the opportunity to create more comfortable learning environments for students, combatting the Scottish climate.

Ventilation plays a crucial part in two requirements of passive house standards: air tightness and space heating demand. Openings in buildings, such as windows and porous building materials can allow heat to escape, wasting the energy generated by the building. Consequently, Passivhaus buildings have high airtightness and low heat loss. However, in increasing the airtightness of a building to conserve energy, indoor air quality can suffer. Therefore, a mechanical ventilation solution is required to manage indoor air quality without wasting energy.

Adopting AirMaster as a school’s ventilation strategy is an effective choice for designing comfortable classrooms. Due to the decentralised design of AirMasters, the units can be installed easily in a range of different classrooms, making use of duct free air distribution. A typical classroom installation requires one AirMaster AM 1000 per room with intake and exhaust connection to outside. The AM 1000 can recover up to 90% of the room’s heat using an aluminium heat exchanger, reducing the building’s heat load and heat loss.

The certification of the AM 1000 makes available an innovative ventilation strategy that can improve indoor air quality without sacrificing thermal comfort. Not only is this certification exciting for SAV Systems, but it is also exciting for decentralised mechanical MVHR as a ventilation strategy. With growing pressure on buildings to become energy efficient and comfortable, decentralised MVHR like AirMaster should play a vital role in the solution.



Energys Group LED upgrade at Leytonstone School is set to deliver £8.7K annual savings

Leytonstone School is on track to significantly reduce its annual energy use following the final part of its LED lighting upgrade – as financed by the London Borough of Waltham Forest’s Salix Fund. The project is estimated to achieve annual savings in the region of £8,700 against a project cost of £69,639. This is estimated to lead to carbon reduction savings of 24.61 tonnes of CO2/pa with a lifetime carbon savings of 615 tonnes. Return on investment is predicted to be within 7.3 years.

 Leytonstone School has been in its current location in the London Borough of Waltham Forest for over a century. Today, more than 800 students aged between 11-16  attend the school, which has been rated as Good  by OFSTED since 2016.


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As one would expect, since Leytonstone School first opened, there has been ongoing development of the site. The latest refurbishment took place just four years ago when the lighting in the main building was upgraded to LED.

However, the lighting in the Practical block and Music and Drama building was not upgraded at that time. As such Sean Goffin, Site Manager at the school, became increasingly concerned about the maintenance costs and levels of lighting failures, particularly relating to the emergency lighting.  When he contacted Nimish Shah, Energy Manager at London Borough of Waltham Forest, he was confident that they would be keen to assist.


Salix funded solution 

The London Borough of Waltham Forest supports schools in the Borough to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions through its Salix Fund.  Waltham Forest match-funds the Salix grant to provide loans to schools within the borough. As Nimish Shah explains; “We loan funds to schools to invest in energy efficiency projects and they repay us as those savings are realised. We have been running this fund for the past decade and so far we have recycled it 2.5 times.”

With more than 50 maintained schools within the Borough, the team at Waltham Forest are keen to target schools with the highest expenditure on energy projects. This latest project for Leytonstone School showed significant scope to make further savings – and as such the Borough’s energy team agreed it was a project to proceed with.


Minimum disruption, maximum savings

Raj Gunasekaren, Business Development Manager at Energys Group proposed a solution to which could be delivered with minimum disruption. Self-learning Intelligent Wireless Control LED lights were installed, which use iDim Active+ sensor technology.  This is an intelligent wireless automatic control which provides daylight harvesting and presence detection without need for re-wiring or modification to existing circuits.

Energys Group estimated that the project would take ten days to complete and, in order to minimise disruption to the school timetable, the project was scheduled for the Summer half-term holiday.  In the event, the majority of the project was completed during the half-term week and the team finished off the project by working a couple of early mornings and late evenings.


Improved quality of light

The school’s Site Manager Sean Goffin was very pleased with the way in which Energy Group delivered this project; “The work was completed on time and with minimum disruption to the school day and teachers have already commented on the improvement in the quality of the lighting, which is an excellent outcome.”

Sean Goffin is delighted with the commitment the Energys Group team has made to following up and tweaking the new system; “Nothing has been too much trouble for them and, whilst it is still early days in terms of seeing the energy savings coming through, I am already noticing a reduction in the maintenance time for the lighting in these two buildings.”

Raj Gunasekaran, Business Development Manager at Energys Group says; “We are delighted to install our energy efficient, state of the art LED technology at Leytonstone School. Staff and students alike will now benefit from all the known benefits of LED lighting, including reduced eyestrain and improved alertness  – and the school budget benefits too!”

TEL +44 (0)1403 786212

Retrofitting Remeha high-efficiency replacement boilers has proved a highly effective and efficient solution to achieving improved heating performance at Thomas More Catholic School in Purley.

For the last two decades, the listed Venetian Gothic building that houses the school had relied on two dated cast-iron pressure jet boilers for its heating. Heating is a critical service in all buildings, but particularly in schools as if the system fails, the building could face closure. Furthermore, an effective and efficient heating system optimises the learning environment, maximising comfort levels while minimising energy demand for lower running costs and emissions.

So when the old boiler plant at Thomas More Catholic School began to fail, surveyors Faithorn Farrell Timms LLP (FFT) were swift to act, recommending an immediate boiler replacement. Due to the listed status of the building, which dates back to 1863, this cost-effective, non-disruptive solution was the most viable option to achieving high-performance heating.

FFT appointed Cowley Group to carry out the boiler replacement as they had the experience of working on similar projects.

Cowley Group’s Managing Director Anthony Gurr recommended installing two high-efficiency Remeha Gas 610 Eco Pro 13-section replacement boilers to meet the heat demand and site requirements.

Anthony Gurr said: “We always specify Remeha where we can as we find they have the best range of boilers for almost every application. What’s more, they are the most reliable of the boiler brands we have installed.”

Given the heritage considerations, the project was not without its challenges, as FFT’s Project Manager Abigail Blumzon explained:

“The first obstacle we faced was access, as the primary entrance to the basement-level plantroom is via a very narrow and fragile Victorian cast iron staircase.

“The flueing arrangements for the new condensing boilers were similarly more complex than would otherwise be the case, due to the listed nature of the building.

“Added to this was the need to avoid any disruption either to the service or the building, as this emergency boiler replacement needed to take place during term time. This meant ensuring that the heating service remained uninterrupted throughout the changeover, while maintaining a safe environment for the students and minimising noise and disturbance.”

It was no small feat for Cowley Group. In order to overcome the access constraints, the old boilers had to be broken down and craned out of the basement through a lightwell. The new Remeha boilers then had to enter the plantroom through the same space.

Anthony commented: “A key benefit of the Remeha boilers on this project is their weight as we were able to lift them down into the plantroom. They were also narrow enough to fit through the doorways.”

Following his recommendation, a plate heat exchanger was applied to hydraulically separate the two circuits. This prevents any debris or contaminated water entering the new boilers, increasing their longevity and durability while optimising their operational performance and the overall efficiency of the system.

In addition to cordoning off the ‘hot works’ zone so that the school remained a safe environment for its students, Cowley Group needed to devise a suitable flueing arrangement for the new condensing boilers.

Anthony explained: “The school building has a 27-metre-high chimney, listed and built in 1878, so the most appropriate solution was to reline it and drop the flue down inside the lining tube. This was carried out by Flue Stax Ltd. The scaffolders did a good job but, given the height, it was quite an exacting task – although one that we managed to complete successfully.”

“The whole project went very smoothly,” confirmed Abigail. “Given the hurdles which the team had to overcome, the excellent result is a testament to everyone who worked on the project.”

With the new Remeha boilers now fully operational, the students and staff at Thomas More Catholic School are benefitting from higher comfort levels throughout the building. The new boilers will also bring financial and environmental benefits, thanks to their high efficiencies and low Class 6 NOx emission levels. Energy usage, heating costs and associated emissions will all be reduced, while the improved reliability will further reduce maintenance costs in the months ahead.

The school is delighted with the installation which was carried out smoothly and to schedule.

Robin Caunt, Site Premises Manager at Thomas More Catholic School, said:

“Excellent project management from start to finish by all those involved. The boiler room has been improved with better lighting, painted floor and incredibly quiet boilers.”

The Remeha Gas 310/610 Eco Pro high efficiency condensing boiler series is specially designed for maximum versatility and energy efficiency. Available in five to ten sections, its compact design means it fits through any standard doorway. For restricted or awkward access, it can be disassembled into parts, reducing labour and time costs.


On June 10th, the government is set to publish its final proposals for the long-awaited Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). By the end of the year qualifying suppliers with more than 150,000 customers will be legally required to offer terms of payment for the surplus power that new solar homes put on the grid. Smaller suppliers are also able to offer a Smart Export Guarantee on a voluntary basis. 

The STA wants to see a competitive market develop to purchase power from smart, solar homes. It will be watching the market very closely for developments and ranking all offers via its online Smart Export Guarantee league table, so that new solar households can easily understand which companies are making the best offers.

Currently only Octopus Energy, on a voluntary basis, has a tariff for solar exports, for which it is offering a fair market rate.

STA Director of Advocacy and New Markets Léonie Greene said; “We will be watching the market like a hawk to see if competitive offers come forward that properly value the power that smart solar homes can contribute to the decarbonising electricity grid. The net zero energy transition we need cannot happen without the active engagement of the public so it is vital that, as very small players, they are treated fairly in a very big system. It is a requirement under EU law to offer fair, market-rate payment for small-scale solar power exports and government has decided to leave this to a market that it does not trust to supply power at a fair price. 

Nevertheless we are hopeful that there are innovative electricity supply companies who understand the importance of incentivising homeowners who want to install solar, battery storage and EV charging as we move towards a smart energy system. Barriers still need to be resolved and it is incumbent on government to remove these to encourage as thriving and competitive a market as possible, including for aggregators.”

Innovative supplier Octopus Energy have already taken steps towards meeting the requirements of the SEG with the first truly ‘smart’ export tariff offer, which includes both a simple fixed payment for all surplus power exported to the grid at a fair market rate of 5.5p/kWh, and a ‘smart’ tariff, which will enable homes with solar and battery storage that can control when they export power to the grid to potentially benefit from even higher rates because they can export at ‘peak’ times when power is more expensive.

However, while this initial offering is positive, it does have its limits. In order to benefit from Octopus Energy’s offer, you also have to be a customer on the supply side. If other suppliers follow this format, there is a risk of consumers being saddled with opaque package deals that cloak the true economics of household power use and supply. Furthermore, this offer only applies to the domestic market. Since April 2019, small-scale commercial and community energy generators have been left with no route to market.

Details released on the SEG so far are scant, so the STA is not yet able to comment in depth, however, it is expected that MCS certification or the equivalent will be a requirement to qualify for a SEG, helping to safeguard high standards in the industry.

The announcement is expected to fall short of demands to mandate a minimum price following a vigorous lobbying effort including politicians and the public alike. MPs such as Antoinette Sandbach and Douglas Ross have been particularly vocal on the matter, as have campaign group 10:10 Climate Action. Should the market fail to provide and sustain fair offers there will be immediate pressure on Government to intervene.



In February, schoolchildren from around the globe went on strike to demand urgent action on climate change. It followed stark warnings within a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stating that unprecedented measures are required within the next 12 years to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times – avoiding potentially catastrophic global impacts.


With the built environment estimated to account for around 40% of total UK carbon emissions1, improving the energy efficiency of our buildings must be viewed as a priority.

The Passivhaus Standard offers a proven model for minimising the energy usage of buildings via a fabric-first approach. By applying its principals with the precise design, improved predictability and outstanding thermal performance of structural insulated panels (SIPs), developers are now achieving Passivhaus Certification on projects of increasing scale and complexity.

Getting Certified

At its core, the Passivhaus Standard aims to allow the creation of buildings which require very little energy to heat or cool, whilst also providing a high level of comfort for occupants. To achieve this, it sets clear energy performance targets which a building must meet:

Primary energy demand ≤ 120 kWh/m2/yr

Space heating/cooling demand ≤ 15 kWh/m2/yr

Specific cooling load ≤ 10 W/m2

Passivhaus performance targets for cooler climate buildings

To put these figures in context, the maximum space heating demand for a Passivhaus building is around 10% of that of an average home (estimated to be 140 kWh/m2/yr 2). As such, whilst these criteria do not specifically address a building’s carbon emissions, in practice they should significantly limit emissions when compared with a property built to current Building Regulations/Standards.

To meet these criteria, all areas of the external fabric of the property typically need to be insulated to a U-value of 0.15 W/m2.K, or lower. It is also a requirement of Passivhaus that the building be fundamentally ‘thermal bridge free’. To achieve this, close attention to detailing is crucial when designing the building and installing the insulation to ensure that potential thermal bridges around openings and at junctions (especially the wall / floor) are properly addressed. In addition, air leakage rates must be no higher than 0.6 ach@50 Pa. This is typically achieved by installing an airtight layer, such as oriented strand board (OSB), and airtight tape, which is applied to seal all junctions.

High levels of airtightness within Passivhaus buildings necessitates good ventilation via means of a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) system. MVHR systems extract the heat from outgoing stale air and transfer it to warm incoming fresh air, further reducing the heating demand and ensuring a fresh, comfortable environment within the home.

Whilst it is possible to attain Passivhaus certification with traditional construction methods, in many cases offsite construction approaches such as SIPs can provide a simpler, faster and more adaptable solution to meeting the demanding fabric requirements.


A typical SIP comprises an insulated core sandwiched between two layers of oriented strand board (OSB), with a jointing system that ensures excellent insulation continuity throughout the envelope, limiting repeating thermal bridging. The panels are precision cut to each project’s particular specifications in a production facility, including spaces for openings, such as windows and doors. This ensures an accurate fit, significantly reducing the need for onsite adjustments and waste. It also gives architects considerable freedom in determining the design for the property.

The panels offer excellent ‘out-of-the-box’ fabric performance with whole wall and roof U-values of 0.20 – 0.17 W/m2.K, or better. By assessing all junctions and openings within the building envelope, and carefully installing additional insulation, thermal bridges can be eliminated, and the U-values of all elements reduced to the required level.

The jointing arrangements inherent in SIPs can also support extremely airtight structures. Once an airtight membrane is fitted internally and tape is applied to junctions, the air leakage rate can be reduced to the 0.6 ach @ 50 Pa required by the Passivhaus Standard.

SIPs also provide a number of practical benefits. Their offsite production process supports greater predictability in scheduling, allowing project teams to accurately plan for panel deliveries, avoiding trade overlaps and maximising site efficiency.

The panels can be quickly installed by a small team of trained operatives with a dry construction process that is less dependent on weather conditions than other traditional approaches. When SIPs are used for both the walls and roof, the outer shell of domestic properties can often be erected in just two to three weeks. With the addition of a breather membrane to the panel exteriors, the construction is made weathertight — allowing internal fit-out to begin. The outer timber facing also provides a suitable substrate for a variety of cladding options including brick slips, render and timber cladding.

In Practice

One project to take advantage of the benefits SIPs provide is the Norwich Regeneration Company’s Rayne Park estate. The development includes a mix of private and affordable housing, with 112 of the 172 properties, earmarked for full Passivhaus Certification.

The Kingspan TEK Building System was chosen to form the envelope of many of the dwellings based on its technical specification and value offered through its offsite production process. The first phase of the development completed this March, with the Passivhaus units expected to have a heating demand of just 11 kWh/m2/yr and a primary energy requirement of 77 kWh/m2/yr.

Scalable Solution

With over 65,000 buildings now certified Passivhaus around the globe, the Standard provides a clear route to dramatically reducing the energy performance, and consequently carbon emissions, from our buildings. Offsite approaches such as SIPs provide the ideal delivery method for this standard, allowing the cost-effective construction of entire estates.


1 UK Green Building Council – Climate Change

2 Why Choose Passivhaus? Passivhaus Trust