Case Study

Net Zero Multi Classroom Block at Samuel Ryder Academy

Building type: Classrooms
Project price: £1.7m
Completion date: 2020

Originally, Samuel Ryder was a very small secondary school with about 250 students. A few years ago the Local Authority decided to extend the school’s provision to cover primary and secondary pupils. Since then the school, with an outstanding leadership Ofsted rating, has grown in popularity and demand for places has outstripped capacity. The Local Authority recently provided funding to further extend the school’s provision.

Barker Associates consultancy sent out invitations to tender to six contractors, from which a shortlist of three was drawn up. The key criteria were price and quality, but it was also very important that the company selected had proven experience of working with schools and that the individuals with whom the school had contact were of the right calibre. On all bases, TG Escapes came top.

Having been to look at another TG Escapes building, the school’s leadership team was very happy with the overall quality but wanted to make a few alterations to suit its own particular requirements, such as the flooring and the exterior finish (which needed to blend in with the existing school buildings).

Once the design had been adapted, by our dedicated architects to the satisfaction of the school, manufacturing and construction was able to commence and they were delighted with the speed of the process and the resultant lack of disruption. Of all of the works taking place concurrently on-site, our client reported that TG Escapes stood out both during the build and in the aftercare, by being able to deliver the project on time and on budget.

This building was completed at the end of August 2020 ready for use in time for the students return to school. The block consists of 7 English classrooms, the English team office, an SLT office, year 7 and 8 toilets, a media suite and 2 year 6 classrooms.

Whilst price was the key criteria during the selection process, the sustainable nature of the building materials used is a benefit.

Ian Bailey, Deputy Headteacher explains

“Energy efficiency was considered very important given the passion of many pupils for environmental issues. Rightly so – it’s this world that they are going to inherit. The students and staff find their time in the building wonderful. The primary occupant was the English department who feel very spoilt and lucky to have the experience of teaching and learning in their new classrooms.”

“We are also looking forward to the children being able to track and talk to the trees that were gifted to the school as part of TG Escapes tree planting initiative.”

“It was a very good experience from start to finish with TG Escapes, I would recommend them to others.”

Energy Efficiency

TG Escapes has long been committed to creating buildings that use sustainable materials and environmentally sound methods to ensure extremely high levels of energy efficiency. The energy performance certificate for this building is A+ rated at minus 24 making it carbon neutral, or net-zero, in operation.

Wherever possible we use products and technologies that serve to enhance the ecological integrity of the constructions and advance them towards a net-zero carbon ideal. We never, however, lose sight of our aim to provide learning environments that inspire and support the well-being of the students and staff working within.

Mechanical & Electrical systems are key to producing comfortable building environments as well as achieving energy efficiency.  At Samuel Ryder the M&E consultant Designphase Ltd used a combination of 4 systems to achieve this.

  • Air Source Heat Pumps to heat the hot water and most of the space heating.
  • A Hybrid Active Ventilation System to efficiently supply fresh air and extract stale air.
  • LED lighting & lighting controls with daylight dimming to keep consumption to a minimum.
  • A solar photovoltaic system was installed across the roof.

The air source heat pumps specified produce between 3-4 kilowatts of heat for every kilowatt of electricity used.  The ventilation system tempers the incoming air with the hot air being extracted using low wattage fans to distribute the air and provide a comfortable environment.  The LED lighting is inherently efficient and with the addition of controls, particularly daylight dimming, means that when the spaces are flooded with natural daylight the lights will dim automatically.  Finally, a large 72kW solar photovoltaic array was installed across the roof to help offset the energy used in the building.

The combination of these systems resulted in a building that is both comfortable to use and provides a high level of energy efficiency that will benefit the end-users at Samuel Ryder and the environment we pass onto the next generation.

Solar Energy

Installing solar panels on the new build at Samuel Ryder Academy made perfect sense for the school in a society that is looking to decarbonise and where students are looking for climate action. In total 238 solar panels amounting to 72.59 kWp were installed by Solar for Schools, a company that has installed and manages over 7MW of solar on schools in England and has another 90 schools with solar power in Germany and India.

In the first year of operation, the system at Samuel Ryder is expected to generate around 65,000 kWh of clean electricity, stopping 25 tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere and, where the solar is used in conjunction with teaching and learning, it offers the potential for its 1,200 students to explore renewable energy and other sustainable practices.
The UK has pledged to reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Samuel Ryder Academy is contributing to this goal. During the lifetime of the solar panel system, the school should avoid 560 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of planting 618 hardwood trees and looking after them for 40 years. Provided it continues to be maintained, it should generate over 1.6 million kWh, saving the school money on its future electricity bills by not having to buy as much electricity from mains suppliers.

About Solar for Schools:
Solar Options for Schools Ltd is an award-winning social impact company that helps schools find the best route for them to have a solar panel installation. The schools then save money, reduce their carbon emissions and can benefit from online and onsite educational services related to sustainability and climate change.

Active Ventilation

This is one of Passivent’s biggest projects to date, involving 17 units. The primary aim of any ventilation system is to draw in and circulate fresh air into a building and remove stale polluted air, optimising indoor air quality whilst simultaneously ensuring thermal comfort.
The system is aesthetically sympathetic, quiet and highly energy efficient. It provides three modes of ventilation, depending on the interior and exterior environment, including an innovative air tempering and mixing unit and sensors that automatically respond to CO2 levels. The control system is integrated with the fan coils used to heat and cool the internal air temperature.

Air Source Heat Pumps

Westcott Air Conditioning selected Mitsubishi Electric Variable Refrigerant Flow equipment which is a direct expansion type air conditioning system. One outdoor unit is connected with multiple indoor units, intelligently modulating the flow of refrigerant depending upon the capacity requirements of each zone within the building. It regulates the internal room temperature and comfort levels in the most effective and efficient manner possible. By moving energy where it’s needed, input is reduced by up to 30%


The lighting solution was provided by Dextra who designed and manufacture of all the required lighting in line with guidelines and emergency requirements to the BS5266 standard. A combination of LED luminaires was selected to suit the different spaces in the building. They use both sensors and programmable controls to minimise energy use. The external exit lighting solution was specified to BS EN 60598 standards and selected for its flat appearance mounted to walls for visual escape signage.

Ian Cushion, Scholars Education Trust Estates Manager said; “Offsite fabrication resulted in a very rapid onsite construction. I was impressed by the speed of delivery, which occurred on schedule, and the site manager who had excellent communication skills and was extremely accommodating of requests to tweak the original design.”

"Excellent communication with customer."
Nicola Bunney
Site Manager