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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
    Ten things that we want in our new buildings and ten things that we dont want

    1 Good design
    2 Low maintainence
    3 Low running costs

    Dont Want
    1 Flat roofs
    2 Parapet Walls
    3 Box gutters
    4 Thermal bridges
    5 Air Cooling
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014

    all three wants are concept where as all five don't wants are precise. Better the other way round or at the least precise wants.

    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
    I need help, go on then try filling in some blanks
    Waste of time Tony, see what the architect comes up with first and take it from there. Low running costs and therefore decent levels of energy efficiency are already going to be at the top of the list, hopefully they will go to an architect who has designed schools before and can draw on that experience. However you can spec all the systems in the world for saving money and great design and then find that the BEMS isn't connected correctly to half the kit, no-one knows how to use it anyway and the building is that poorly put together it leaks like a sieve and the windows fall out. But on paper it looks great. Implementation is where it falls down so often it will be built in a rush rather than to a standard :sad:
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
    Direct the architect to design something in the first instance that the pupils want, and something they feel proud of, and enjoy attending. All the other, "energy saving", "green", "sustainable", aspects are just engineering.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJan 21st 2014
    Presently we have a flat roof, sun pipes, massive thermal bridges, parapet walls, dg, air con, heating, communal hand wash basin, odd acoustic detailing, air create blocks, poor u values,

    All designed by architects. :(

    I would like to produce a good design brief
    • CommentAuthorDarylP
    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014

    We have an 'architect - designed' school locally that is a joke....!

    The biggest (obvious) issue is the planting of borders/shrubs adjacent to narrow walkways to/from & around the school. At morning and afternoon 'rush hour', prams plus parents in both directions crushed the greenstuff in less than one week, so the borders were then tarmacced over:cry:

    Think about how people actually access the buildings, as well as how they use them?

    Good luck:smile:
    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014 edited
    Posted By: DarylPThink about how people actually access the buildings, as well as how they use them?
    So a drop off point that does not cause roads to be blocked.
    • CommentAuthordaserra
    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014
    There was a University campus in the US, I forget where, and they left it without paths during the first term and recorded where everyone walked over the grass, and then did the pathways after once the humans had marked them. Genius, yet so simple although anathema to our top down culture.
    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014
    Posted By: daserraThere was a University campus in the US, I forget where, and they left it without paths during the first term and recorded where everyone walked over the grass, and then did the pathways after once the humans had marked them. Genius, yet so simple although anathema to our top down culture.

    We did this once on a golf course construction between the greens and tees. As soon as we had put in the paths after the first season people changed their walking patterns:sad: Conclusion, as long as it is convenient people prefer walking on grass.


    I will have a think about it

    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014
    Was the opposite down here, local college had designated pathways, but people took shortcuts. They eventually put a path in around one side of the library. The smokers still stand by the AC units to keep warm rather than the smoking shelter though.
    I think it was Central University in London that had miserable and not very social students, they made the very wide corridors narrower and found that students interacted with each other more and because more sociable.
    Then there is the strange thing about funnelling around doorways. Put a restriction in the way and people become more ordered and you get a faster exit time.
    Small spaces are also needed as not every student is gregarious, some like to hide away.
    The main problem I have with schools is that many are like a fortress, one near me has double security fencing, the kids are locked in, just awful (and I hate kids and think they should be sent to an orphanage, then boarding school, then the forces, then university and eventually let out at 28). But locking them up during the day is not right.
    • CommentAuthorowlman
    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014
    Posted By: SteamyTea............and I hate kids and think they should be sent to an orphanage, then boarding school, then the forces, then university and eventually let out at 28). But locking them up during the day is not right.

    Where have you been all my life Steamy? :whorship::wink:

    Remember; Insanity is hereditary, you can get it from your children.

    Oops. Missed "school". Back to the drawing board slightly.

    Not sure about the duality - phrases can just be rewritten.

    I think that ease of long term maintenance by on site staff is critical here.


    1 A complete absence of powered moving parts requiring any maintenance whatsoever.
    2 Everything that we can see will need to be reached within the next 30 years to be reachable without roof ladders (see Kevin McCloud of Clan McCloud's plywood 'chimneys' at Swindon).
    3 A conker tree onsite but outside the playground.
    4 Electrical charging points for staff cars.
    5 Several dozen built in bird boxes that are out of reach, including a sparrow colony, for swifts, and some aimed at more interesting species.

    Coming from an architects perspective, I would suggest very strongly that the brief should be very clear from the beginning.

    DONT just ask the architect to produce something and then try to work it to what you would ideally like.

    This way people are not wasting their time/money, getting frustrated with a client that starts out "do what you think is best" but then keeps coming back to revise the design multiple times and it becomes clear that they had a pretty good idea of what they wanted in the first place anyway!

    In other words in my experience its always much better to spend a bit extra time getting the brief as close as possible to what you want and work from there.

    The more the end design changes from the initial brief, the more likely the project is likely to run over estimated budget.

    It also means that if you come with a very clear brief from the beginning it will soon become clear if its the right architect or not, by way of their reaction to the brief.
    • CommentAuthoratomicbisf
    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014
    Out of interest, what is wrong with flat roofs and parapet walls? I know flat roofs have traditionally been associated with leaks, but with modern coverings surely it shouldn't be a problem?

    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014
    All flat roofs leak! if not immediately then too soon.

    parapet walls are thermal bridges, difficult to maintain, can leak, and are unnecessary especially on a new building
    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014
    I bet I could make a GRP flat roof that does not leak, and do it cheaper than a pitched one.
    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014
    daserra wrote: "There was a University campus in the US, I forget where, and they left it without paths during the first term and recorded where everyone walked over the grass, and then did the pathways after once the humans had marked them. Genius, yet so simple although anathema to our top down culture."

    I believe it was Christopher Alexander who came up with the idea for the University of Oregon that first implemented it. It's been done elsewhere since. There are some online articles about the project, although not that particular aspect:

    • CommentAuthorMackers
    • CommentTimeJan 22nd 2014
    I`ll stick my two pence in.

    I think the design should rely on a very good precise brief but I also think that the architect should not take the lead on jobs (sorry to all you architects). I believe it should be a design team with the building services engineer taking the lead.

    This will not work in all cases, but I am working for an M&E consultancy while finishing my masters in Energy & Building Services Engineering. This not only focusses on M&E but also on energy systems and the building fabric.

    I have tried to give advice to architects on jobs about air tightness and more insulation but they just dont listen.
    I find they get caught up in some detail and run away with it.

    Dont get me wrong I love a good looking building but there has to be some sort of give and take there.

    The bulk of our work at the minute is schools and I can safely say that I would not build one of them because the actual fabric of the buildings are a disgrace. In the recent one they have 50mm of Kingspan in a cavity wall!!
    Ten things that we want in our new buildings and ten things that we dont want

    1 Passivhaus

    and go from there...

    This document might be of help Tony, its in English: http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/energie/pdf/AxelBretzke.pdf

    Planning and building a PassiveHouse
    (PH) primary school


    Prozess of planing
    What is, what does a passivehouse school need?
    Why a school in passivehouse quality?
    Basic data


    Other examples

    Economy and ecology

    Political effects

    Details construction and technique
    Winter heat protection
    Summer heat protection
    Ventilation concept
    Measurement and controlling
    Water, hot and sewage
    Electric installation
    Scientific Measurement

    And this one

    Valentin-Senger-Straße Passivhaus School Complex, Frankfurt
    Posted on April 26, 2013
    As part of the Sunday excursion at the 2013 International Passivhaus Conference my tour visited four projects including this very nice passivhaus school complex.

    The school was designed by Baufrösche Architekten (Building Frogs Architects) and completed in 2010 at a cost of €17m. The total treated floor area (TFA) by Passivhaus methodology (useful internal area) is 5,540m2.


    Includes a sports pitch on the roof!:tongue:

    "Very simple solution to create thermal bridge free supports for the fencing round the sports pitch on the roof. Pre-cast mass concrete blocks avoid the need for penetrations through the waterproof membrane or insulation and double as seating."
    Bushbury Passivhaus school 2011

    Bushbury Hill Passivhaus schools

    A certified Passivhaus primary school in Wolverhampton designed by Architype and built by Thomas Vale Contruction. Elemental Solutions provided full Passivhaus design advice, detailing and energy modeling working with Alan Clarke and E3 Consulting Engineers. Opened October 2011. Along with Oakmeadow this was one of the first 3 Passivhaus schools to be certified in the UK. Bushbury School has won a number of awards including a CIBSE Building Performance Award which you can read about in the May 2013 issue of the CIBSE Journal. Article available here.


    Designing Passivhaus schools video

    Presentation at the UK Passivhaus Conference 2011 at the Barbican London with Jonathan Hines and Matt Wisdom. Here we outline the secret to delivering Passivhaus Schools at no extra cost, the innovative ventilation strategy, secrets of good airtightness and some differences compared to German schools.

    On flat roofs, I thought London was full of Victorian/Edwardian schools with playgrounds on the roof.

    Do these leak?

    I know this is the Green Building Forum, but I haven't seen much on the comments above that relates to what actually goes on inside the school..!

    Having worked on quite a few education projects previously, some of the most important early decisions are to do with what the industry calls 'programme'. There are various structures to teaching (yeargroup clusters, 'campus style faculties' etc.) and the operation of these will dictate (to some extent) how the building/s are arranged.

    There will also be decisions to make on teaching methods (projector, whiteboard, laptops) and class size which could fundamentally affect heating loads, servicing provision etc.

    Without delving too much into the form-follows-function argument, it's obvious you don't want to make the arrangement too specific, but I guarantee the head/principal/governors etc. will all have opinions on how this should work. A perfectly engineered passivhaus school that doesn't function operationally would be regarded as a poor successor to a leaky old one that let them teach how they want!

    Whilst they could be a pain to most architects, the now defunct CABE produced some basic guidelines, most of which have been archived:


    On the more practical side, publications like Building Bulletin 98 (secondary) and 99 (primary) give spatial and area guidelines for how much space you need based on pupil numbers. NOTE: these are also now discontinued but the newer guidance tends to just refer back to these and then knock off some area for 'austerity'.
    The architect needs to be centre in this, they are the ones that have to bring it all together. They will be the ones that speak with all the interested parties and get the ideas. You have the education department who will have their ideas, the school management team will have their ideas, the teachers theirs, the pupils theirs and so on. Any brief the architect gets is going to be skewed depending on who it comes from!

    This is why you need an architect who has designed schools before, knows the legislation and guidelines relating to them and the requirements for light/space/ventilation/toilets and the million and one other things. They have to piece it all together and come in with a design that fits the needs of everyone and the budget available. I would be amazed if they didn't automatically specify very high levels of insulation by default. Commercial users are far better at looking at the bigger picture than domestic users, they will want low running costs when they are talking tens of thousands in energy bills most likely per year if they are coming from an old school.
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeJan 24th 2014
    The teachers are the ones to ask. the flow of the children round the building, toilets, doors, cloakrooms located in relation to the classrooms. The different needs of different year groups etc. Go look at other schools and see what works.

    Cheap simple square buildings and use that roof for lots of solar energy. It will be occupied when there is the most available so no reason why it cannot be self sufficient.

    But... why do we keep reinventing the wheel and fueling architects nice holidays? We should build schools like MacDonalds build resurants. They are all the same modules put together as necessary. School needs change as demographics change so a large primary school is needed near a new development but later bigger secondary. Make the schools modular, refine the design as issues are found and in a few years we would have the ability to build cheap schools quickly and move them if necessary to where they are needed.
    • CommentAuthorsquirrel
    • CommentTimeJan 24th 2014
    Apologies, but in my very simplistic understanding that seems to be the wrong way round.

    Wouldn't you first need to establish what kind of school is needed, how big, what ages, what facilities? Then maybe ask staff, kids and parents what extra features they want (conker trees in the yard, traffic-free drop-off point).

    Then get a good architect/designer who can take all of that and turn it into some drawings.

    Then find a way to build that design as a PH.
    • CommentAuthorCerisy
    • CommentTimeJan 24th 2014
    From my experience of being an architect looking after both new builds and the maintenance of school buildings the only way to get a decent building is to have a design team that truly understands education buildings and, more importantly, a client that can properly specify and brief the team. As with so many public projects a poor client team that can't brief the architect usually result in a poor building well over budget.

    Borpin - one big failing for all of us is to ignore history - when I was working for Notts County Council I had to sort out all the numerous problems with the CLASP system that was used for many schools, etc. In principle, brilliant - in reality, a minefield. We could replace the cheap flat roof covering with the latest materials that could give 25 / 30 year life, but the detailing around all the numerous roof lights was impossible to get watertight! Personally, the best school projects reflect the local environment - the new school at Newark was just brilliant due to an inspired head and an Architect that understood how to fit the building into a sensitive location.
    • CommentAuthormarkocosic
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2014
    I rate Jonathan Hines @ Architype - knows his stuff.

    I'll add a want: demand controlled ventilation

    This approach doesn't work in practice as teachers make lousy autonomous control systems for mundane repetitive tasks. Assuming that they're even capable of understanding ventilation - not all are scientists.

    "Applying the radically basic idea of using only windows to ventilate a room requires understanding from staff and some common sense. A simple user guide has been drafted..."


    And another: appropriate lighting

    Both daylighting arranged such that you can read boards, screens, and at your desk, AND artificial lighting with a colour rendering index that means you can actually see shit in the classroom. Too many low CRI flourescent and LED fittings in modern buildings. "Lots" of light but you can't see jack shit. These on the other hand are great:


    Nothing wrong with flat roofing on a commercial scale.
    Assuming that they're even capable of understanding ventilation - not all are scientists.

    I think you are perhaps a little optimistic about "scientists" :wink:.

    How much control should teachers would be allowed over the learning environment in their classrooms?

    I can recall being moved into a new office building, where we were suddenly presented with a "Comfort" conditioned building with no opening windows. I ended up with a forest of desk-plants just to make it liveable in my little bit.

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