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technologies such as low-wattage lighting, biomass boilers and climate-adjusting classrooms are employed to create comfortable, modern spaces that bring school facilities firmly into the 21st Century. This design approach also helps to reduce running costs while ensuring that buildings are kept cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. For example, at a number of WMCF schools – including Offmore Primary School in Kidderminster – green roofs are being used in conjunction with insulation to retain heat during colder spells while reflecting heat during the summer. In addition, sophisticated natural ventilation technology responds to changes to internal conditions to either let air into the room, or close vents to retain heat. This allows each school – and other WMCF buildings – to reduce heating and avoid air conditioning systems to keep running costs low.


These systems are managed centrally


by Worcestershire County Council to ensure the schools are not only comfortable for pupils and teachers, but can also be monitored for energy consumption. That’s important in checking the efficiency of new buildings, but it also provides a useful educational opportunity for pupils, who – through interactive display screens positioned throughout schools – can learn more about energy use.


Landscaping is also an important part of the school environment, and where outside spaces need to be re-developed at places such as St George’s Primary School in Kidderminster and Stourport Primary School, Framework projects are utilising SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) technology to better manage rainfall and water resources. The use of green roofs contributes to this process by absorbing water and carefully constructed networks of drainage channels, basins and ponds play a role in water management too. When used in landscapes surrounding schools, these features can also be used as part of wildlife areas for pupils – again promoting the environment and growth of sustainable eco-systems. In the case of Offmore Primary School, these environmental credentials were put to the test by the Government’s Technology Strategy Board which funded independent research into how the school would cope with predicted climate change between now and 2050. The draft findings show that not only would the school cope extremely well with wetter winters and drier summers, it would require only very minor shading tweaks in the future. Offmore has since secured a BREEAM Excellent rating – the highest yet achieved by Worcestershire County Council for one of its schools. But sustainability goes beyond the


green agenda if we’re to target the key issues that face us today, and the WMCF is also working to increase investment into the local area to stimulate economic growth. So far, 85 per cent of construction-related spend – accounting for more than £30 million – has been within 30 miles of our project areas in Hereford and Worcester. And due to the nature of a Framework, which creates demand across a number of projects for a number of years, each contractor and supply chain has been able to invest internally, creating jobs – including apprenticeship opportunities – and up-skilling members of staff. In a time of economic uncertainty, these are key benefits for the local area and they underpin the importance of local Frameworks, but it also highlights how a more collaborative approach can help improve the construction process. Rather than considering developments in isolation, the WMCF partners can monitor, manage and streamline the construction process to save money, improve environmental credentials across the region and – most importantly of all – allow for the creation of high quality buildings for local people. For more information, please visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/wmcf or read the blog at


http://westmidscontractorframework. wordpress.com


PUBLIC SECTOR SUSTAINABILITY • VOLUME 2 ISSUE 5 21


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