07 JUN 2023


One of the UK’s first net zero schools has marked a significant milestone.

Morgan Sindall Construction’s Northern Home Counties business held a topping out ceremony at Buntingford First School marking the region and country’s first carbon neutral schools.

The new 330-pupil school, which has 10 classrooms and a nursery, will include a rooftop outdoor classroom and numerous play areas. It will be built on a former Sainsbury’s depot site and adjoin Bury Football Club, which will share the site with the new school.

Scheduled to open in 2023, the school was procured through the Pagabo framework and will be one of the first net zero schools – in both embodied and operational carbon – in the UK. 

David Rowsell, area director for Morgan Sindall Construction in the Northern Home Counties, said: “Morgan Sindall is at the forefront of net zero construction, and we are proud to see this pioneering project taking place in our local region. Projects like Buntingford First School are incredibly rare, with very few set to become net zero in operation and embodied, as well as utilising a Passivhaus design. It will set a new standard when it comes to sustainable, high-quality design for schools around the country.  

“It is great to welcome some key stakeholders from across the region to the site and celebrate this key milestone, as we work to deliver this first-class educational facility for the upcoming academic year.” 

Matt Gauthier, deputy chief executive officer at Scholars’ Education Trust, said: “We were delighted to be selected to run this magnificent school and I’m so excited to be here today and to have seen its evolution from day one. Right now, this is just a building and what will bring it to life is having children inside, making this a first-class educational facility.”

In line with Hertfordshire County Council’s sustainability strategy and ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030, it is set to achieve Passivhaus Plus, meaning it will improve the school’s air quality, reduce carbon emissions and lower its energy running costs.  

All the teaching spaces will face north to avoid south-facing windows that can cause rooms to overheat. Social areas such as the dining halls and common rooms will be south-facing. 

Aligned with Morgan Sindall’s Intelligent Solutions approach, the design also uses a cross laminated timber (CLT) frame, meaning for every metre cubed, two tonnes of carbon are saved. On completion, the frame is set to be responsible for saving 1,160 tonnes of carbon, as well as reducing construction traffic by 90% and savings of 20%.  

As part of the highly sustainable project, over 300 solar panels will be installed alongside triple-glazing windows and air-source heat pumps.  

Cllr Caroline Clapper, executive member for education, libraries & lifelong learning at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “This is such an exciting time for Hertfordshire and Buntingford First School aligns with our sustainability agenda and further demonstrates our commitment to net zero carbon. This will be the gold standard for school building going forward.”  

The topping out ceremony included speeches from Cllr Clapper and Cllr Duncan Wallace from Hertfordshire County Council before a guided site tour for all attendees and a reception at The Bury Clubhouse. 


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