Carnegie Primary School demonstrates how an exciting yet practical educational environment can also deliver exceptional levels of sustainability, underlined by the award of a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating, the first such rating to be awarded to a UK primary school. The School accommodates almost 600 pupils in a ‘pinwheel’ building, designed and built by Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure, with design input from architecture practice Archial. The building combines passive design principles, recognised eco-technologies, and high performance products and materials in order to ensure green strategies are ‘designed in’ rather than ‘added on’.

Maximising natural light

Sustainability underpins every aspect of school design, from the 15kW wind turbine to the rainwater harvesting system, while the building is also designed to maximise natural light and ventilation. The relatively narrow ‘spokes’ of the pinwheel encourage daylight penetration and cross-ventilation, with VELFAC glazing -  specified throughout - raising light levels even further. The slim VELFAC frame design can increase the amount of natural light entering the interior by up to 50 per cent more than other more ‘traditional’ window designs, while also delivering the highly durable levels of finish and performance demanded by a busy school environment.

Remote control windows

VELFAC glazing is also fundamental to the school’s natural ventilation system. Remote control windows, with motors concealed within the timber frame, automate internal environmental control, with the option of personal override whenever fresh air is needed.  The VELFAC system also brings light into the central hub, and is a key feature of the striking library facade, delivering a strong aesthetic complement to the unusual cantilevered design.

Carnegie Primary School was opened by Scotland’s then First Minister Alex Salmond, who called it ‘the best school in Scotland’; the school also won plaudits from the architectural community, receiving a commendation in the ‘Sustainable Design’ category in the 2012 Scottish Design Awards.