St Sophia’s Primary School in East Ayrshire, Scotland, will be the first school in the UK to reach the ‘EnerPHit (Passivhaus) standard’ and has strong ambitions to implement circular economy principles.
Useful Projects is undertaking a sustainability appraisal of the proposed refurbishment of the school with Green Built Environment, for Zero Waste Scotland . The appraisal comprises 3 parts: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of carbon impact, Circular Refurbishment Options Appraisal, and Co-Benefits Analysis of wider sustainability impacts.
The aim of the study is to produce a decision making tool for the Council to implement circular refurbishment measures, and at the same time provide an exemplar methodology for how to embed circular and sustainable approaches into the school design process, making this specific project a guide to replicate at scale in the sector.
Improved functionality and sustainability are the key drivers for the refurbishment of St Sophia’s Primary School in East Ayrshire. The commitment to sustainability by the Council is also demonstrated by the adoption of the EnerPHit certification, the Passivhaus standard for refurbishment that ensures outstanding energy performance. This will be the first EnerPHit certified school in the UK.
Recognising that the operational carbon emissions are an important but partial consideration on the road to Net Zero by 2050, the client wished to explore more holistic opportunities to render this school more sustainable, widening the lens to considerations of circularity, embodied carbon and overall carbon savings, over a 50-year lifespan.
We developed and applied a whole life value management framework which address the triple bottom line of environmental, social and financial issues. With this methodology we can assess a broad range of data that reflect a complex variety of values. Our methodology integrates innovative emerging tools such as Regenerate, for the circular economy appraisal, and The Value Toolkit to support decision making throughout the whole investment cycle.
Environmental values beyond carbon include circular economy measures, biodiversity, pollution avoidance, and water use. Social values include health and wellbeing, community engagement, and the development of local supply chains.
We have used this framework to review design options and material specifications for the refurbishment, thus enabling the design and project teams to make decisions based on a much wider evidence-base than is typically available.
The output of this project is the development of an assessment framework that, for given design options, provides qualitative and quantitative environmental information, including on circular economy considerations and wider associated co-benefits, social, environmental and financial.
This informs key principles to embed as the design develops and is a useful map for strategic choices for designers and clients, which could be applied more generally to schools looking to refurbish on target to achieve Net Zero by 2050.