New Unity Academy building sets the standard for sustainability
In a significant step towards a greener and more sustainable future, a state-of-the-art school building is set to officially open on 5th September 2023, setting the benchmark for energy efficiency and contributing to our efforts to be carbon net zero by 2030.
Unity Academy, a new alternative provision located in Kidderminster not only meets the stringent sustainability requirements set forth by the Department for Education (DfE) but also boasts a remarkable solar panel installation that matches its energy consumption needs and has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating A.
Once opened, Unity Academy will become the 16th school in The Rivers CofE Academy Trust family of schools.
Unity Academy, manufactured by Portakabin, was designed with environmental consciousness at its core, aligning perfectly with the DfE's guidelines and the Rivers’ sustainability focus.
The building is made with top-grade insulation, thermal properties in the windows and air circulation to help maintain a suitable classroom temperature offers plenty of bright natural light and all the modern comfort and space required to enhance pupil's learning experience.
Meeting DfE sustainability requirements
One of the most noteworthy achievements of Unity Academy is its adherence to the DfE's sustainability requirements. The Department for Education has been actively encouraging sustainable design and construction practices in educational buildings to reduce carbon emissions and promote environmental stewardship.
The school's design incorporates a multitude of eco-friendly features:
- Energy-efficient design: The school building was designed with the latest energy-efficient technologies, such as LED lighting, advanced insulation, and high-performance windows, ensuring minimal energy waste.
- Green landscaping: The surrounding grounds of the school features a forest school area, fallow plots and native plants to encourage wildlife and sustainable landscaping practices, enhancing the local ecosystem.
- Waste reduction: Production processes and construction materials were carefully selected to minimize waste.
- Low-carbon transportation: To encourage sustainable transportation options like walking, cycling or public transport, the school has electronic vehicle charging points to help reduce the carbon footprint associated with commuting.
Solar panels to match energy usage
What truly sets Unity Academy apart is its commitment to harnessing renewable energy. The school boasts a cutting-edge solar panel installation that has the capacity to meet its entire energy consumption needs. This remarkable feat not only significantly reduces the school's carbon footprint but also sets a compelling example for other schools.
Russell Dalton, Operations Director at The Rivers CofE Academy Trust explains how the Rivers is looking to replicate the Unity approach to renewable energy at all schools within the trust. “Many of our schools already have solar panels, but not enough to cover energy consumption. We are currently working to reduce our electricity usage and become as energy efficient as can be, by installing LED lighting, new boilers and insulating roofs . Once we know the annual consumption for each school, we can then look to install enough solar panels to match the energy usage.”
As with other schools in the trust Unity Academy plans to integrate sustainability into the curriculum, educating pupils about renewable energy and environmental responsibility. This purposeful learning experience will prepare pupils to be future citizens and leaders in a world that increasingly demands sustainable practices.
Unity Academy will be officially opened on Tuesday 5th September by International Education Consultant Barry Carpenter, who will be joined in attendance by members of Worcestershire Children’s First, Headteachers from local Wyre Forest schools along with the Old Sladonians, ex-pupils of Sladen Middle School which previously occupied the site.