Leading UK insulation, drywall and ceiling product distributor CCF has supplied a range of insulation, drylining and suspended ceiling products for the award-winning Houlton School in Rugby, working with Drywall Contracts Ltd to create a stylish and sustainable interior.


The team at CCF’s Northampton branch played a key role in helping to transform the Grade II listed remains of Rugby’s iconic radio station building – once the largest radio transmitting station in the world – into a new state of the art secondary school campus.


The ambitious scheme to create the new Houlton School has been developed by Urban and Civic, designed by VHH Architects and built by Morgan Sindall Construction. The challenging and creative retrofit project has also benefited from the technical expertise of CCF, with the distributor working with its supply chain partners British Gypsum and Rockfon to enhance the thermal efficiency of the new school buildings.


The complex interior package was undertaken by Drywall Contracts Ltd, and included the installation of drylining and wall lining to the interior walls, suspended ceilings and extensive insulation to the cavity walls and external facades.


A key challenge involved preventing heat loss from the Grade II listed walls of the radio transmitter building, formerly known as the C Station, so that the new building met with the required U-values and would create a comfortable learning environment for the new school community. This led to the decision to insulate the walls from the inside, combined with the use of additional floor and roof insulation, and new replacement windows. It was also essential to achieve the required levels of airtightness to reduce the risk of condensation and potential damage to the brickwork walls of the listed building.


The specified system from British Gypsum comprised vapour-open wood fibre insulation and a lime plaster parge coat to enhance the thermal and acoustic performance of the interior elements and meet the necessary fire safety standards. Over 3,500m2 of insulation was installed to the new school buildings, with all products supplied by CCF.


Houlton School has been created following the careful and sympathetic renovation of one of Rugby’s most famous landmarks, and successfully blends modern elements with period features. The former engine room of the site has been transformed into a communal space for eating and socialising, with the new school also benefitting from a purpose-built sports centre and a new library and communication centre, complete with its own radio broadcasting station.


The project has received widespread recognition across several industry award schemes, including West Midlands Royal Town Planning Institute Awards, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Awards, and the 2022 Planning Awards. It also received praise at the 2022 AJ Architecture Awards after being named ‘Design of the Year’ and was awarded a top prize at the FIS Contractor Awards 2022. The project is now in the running for RIBA’s inaugural Reinvention Award. The winner will be announced at the Stirling Prize award ceremony on Thursday 19 October 2023.



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AIM Acoustic & Insulation Manufacturing has supplied Wall Cavity Barriers and open state cavity barriers (OSCBs), along with technical support, for a ‘path-breaking’, 900-room student accommodation development at the University of West England Bristol’s Frenchay Campus. Designed by Stride Treglown, the project’s main contractor is Vinci Construction.

AIM worked with Maple Sunscreening on the rainscreen façade system assembly from the ground floor upwards, which is mainly cassette panels with AIM’s OSCBs incorporated horizontally and AIM’s Wall Cavity Barriers installed vertically.


Joe Hemming, senior project manager for Maple Sunscreening said,


“Maple’s commitment to the highest level of quality installation and recording has proved vital in maintaining confidence with the client, to date Maple’s on-site team have worked closely with AIM and the client to deliver product training with certification for over 60 operatives and managers currently work on this project.  This is now reflecting within Maple’s and AIM’s quality audits.”  AIM also supplied and supported installers Sandford Building Contractors during the construction of the extruded polystyrene (XPS) filled sub-floor cavity, which included a layer of AIM’s Wall Cavity Barrier directly above the XPS, and all two masonry storeys.




Designed for use within ventilated rainscreen facades and timber frame cladding systems, AIM’s OSCBs allow free airflow and drainage and improve fire safety, providing fire resistance of up to two hours insulation and integrity in suitably supporting structures.  In the event of a fire, heat activates an intumescent strip which expands quickly to fully close the cavity.   AIM Wall Cavity Barriers are made from foil faced high density Rockwool stone wool and are suitable for use in all masonry cavity walls, as well as for fire stopping between a masonry curtain wall system and a concrete floor slab. The barriers prevent the passage of heat, flame and smoke within the cavity they fill for one- or two-hour fire-resistance rating periods.  They are tested to BS 476-20.  The barriers also reduce airborne transmission of sound by a minimum of 21db Rw.




Jonathon Hunter Hill

Product Manager – AirMaster SMVs


In most Romance languages, the word for insulation translates directly as isolation. On the road to Net Zero, one of the UK’s primary challenges is to cut heat loss from buildings by isolating the inside from the outside. Increases in air tightness, and reductions in U-values and thermal bridging, will continue to reduce heat loss from buildings. But the increased air tightness creates a particular problem: we are aiming to eliminate natural air exchange between indoors and outdoors to reduce heat loss, cutting the primary method of ventilation that the UK has long relied upon.

Ventilation is required to maintain good indoor air quality in buildings, whether it be reducing the humidity to prevent damp and mould, or to minimise CO2 levels to prevent inhibition of brain function. This creates a different problem: by extracting air from buildings, we also extract heat, which must then be made up from other sources. This is a vicious circle in that we have reduced heat loss through natural air exchange, but may incur heat loss through mechanical ventilation. In buildings with relatively low occupancy densities, such as domestic environments, a low rate of air change per hour (ACH-1) is required, for example 2-4 ACH-1 for living rooms. But in buildings with relatively high occupancy densities, such as offices and schools, the ventilation rate required to maintain good indoor air quality is 4-6 ACH-1, so a great deal of heat can be lost.

The UK has long been in the habit of using natural ventilation for buildings, but Net Zero put paid to that. The solution is to recover the heat from the air using mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR). In Europe, this is the de facto ventilation solution for new buildings. Indeed, in European deep refurbishments and new builds this is typically a legal requirement. MVHR extracts stale air from rooms, passing it through a heat exchanger. At the same, fresh air is drawn in from outside and is passed through the heat exchanger, the two pathways being separated by a hydraulic break. Heat flows from hot to cold, so the stale air deposits its heat into the heat exchanger, which is picked up by the colder fresh air, warming it before it enters the room. This can reduce heat demand by up to 90%.

When it comes to the UK’s new build schools, in the School Output Specification (Technical Annex 2H: Energy) the Department for Education has set minimum energy intensity targets of 52 / 67 kWh/m2 (primary and special educational needs / secondary schools respectively). The Output Specification indicates that heating should comprise 8 kWh/m2 of this target. Heat load (heat loss), therefore, must be absolutely minimal in order to meet this criterion. Using natural, hybrid, or mixed mode ventilation solutions, this target simply will not be met. It can only be achieved using MVHR, and MVHR with a low specific fan power (SFP) at that.

Factoring in both electrical consumption, heat demand associated with ventilation, fabric losses, and internal gains, a classroom with decentralized MVHR will have a heat load of approximately 600 kWh/year. Comparatively, a classroom with the best hybrid solution would have a heat load of approximately 3,500 kWh/year. This is a factor of six different, entirely due to heat recovery, which in this case will recover approximately 84% of the classroom’s heat. (

In many cases, schools are being designed to use air source heat pumps combined with solar PV panels for generation. If we assume that the heat pump has an SCOP of 3.2 and that PV covers and average of 50% of the building’s electricity demand, the performance gap narrows. However, the outstanding heat load is still approximately a factor of five times higher when using hybrid ventilation as opposed to decentralized MVHR. The result of a reduced heat load is a reduced requirement for both heat plant and renewable energy generation, resulting in net lower lifecycle carbon emissions and may result in lower capital costs.

In specifying ventilation units of any type, I strongly encourage designers to consider not only the electrical energy, but also the heat loss associated with the type of ventilation considered; to take a holistic approach to ventilation. MVHR inevitably has a higher electrical demand, but will slash the building’s heat demand.

When we consider the building fabric to meet our Net Zero goals, it is essential that we consider minimising heat loss through ventilation as a core element of said fabric. This will only be achieved with good quality MVHR if we are to satisfy the requirements for energy intensity and the indoor air quality. With the rise in energy prices, we must reconsider CAPEX vs OPEX. We can learn a great deal from the more mature energy markets of Europe.


The effectiveness of education provided to students is directly proportional to the quality of the learning environment where the teaching is delivered. Optimal acoustics, thermal performance, air quality, natural lighting, security and aesthetics work harmoniously together to positively impact how students and teachers stay comfortable and focused, and perform academically.

Kawneer continuously invests in façade systems that create excellent learning environments, allowing specifiers to choose from a wide variety of market leading products designed and built to the highest possible standards.

From a suite of products specifically designed for the Education sector, highlights include the AA®190 TB, a severe duty welded commercial entrance door that offers robust performance, the AA®720 SL window, offering great thermal characteristics and slim sightlines, and our market leading AA®100 curtain wall system, which provides a best-in-class performance.

Facing the challenges together

With a vast amount of experience in this sector, helping to create buildings that deliver aesthetic, cost and performance requirements, Kawneer understands the challenges faced by architects, fabricators and maintenance teams.That’s why it specialises in aluminium façade solutions that provide excellent performance, best value, unmatched durability, reduced maintenance and a low carbon footprint.

Kawneer manufactures its high performance aluminium systems at its purpose-built manufacturing facility in Runcorn, Cheshire. These products allow specifiers to meet both the technical performance and cost brief of any project, creating excellent learning environments that provide great aesthetics and optimise natural light and ventilation.

Leading by example

Kawneer is one of very few suppliers with the BES 6001 accreditation, a document proving our products are made with responsibly sourced raw materials. We also have ‘Life Cycle Assessments’ and ‘Environmental Product Declarations’ (EPDs) for our three main systems.

Teachers strive to ensure the experience and knowledge they pass on to a new generation lasts a lifetime. Kawneer wants the buildings it has helped to create to withstand the test of time and ensure they provide comfortable learning environments for all future generations.

Your next education project

We have built up a well-established and successful legacy in this sector, so whether you are looking for a thermally efficient Passivhaus solution, an outward opening cost-effective casement window or a robust entrance door that is tested to a severe duty category, we have the right product choice and combination for your next education project.