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How does Willmott Dixon accelerate Net Zero through Passivhaus?

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Harris Academy Sutton 5 mid Res

Sustainability and social value are two key aspirations close to Willmott Dixon and SCAPE’s heart - with net zero carbon in operation buildings a goal both work towards. With the UK’s Net Zero by 2050 targets, combined with the construction and operation of buildings accounting for nearly 40% of global carbon emissions, it’s important to get ahead now.

SCAPE is proud to work alongside framework partner, Willmott Dixon, and can see the powerful impact this partner creates from its strong history of sustainable projects.

Willmott Dixon have mapped out their route to delivering all new buildings and refurbishments with net zero carbon in operation by 2030. Their sustainability strategy, ‘Now or Never, our decisive decade’, provides the roadmap, and extends Willmott Dixon’s carbon reduction ambitions to its supply chain and the embodied carbon within the materials used.

This is an issue that impacts on everyone, and we’ll need to work together to achieve our common aspirations for a greener built environment

Rick Willmott
Group Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon

What is Passivhaus and why is it important?

The Passivhaus standard is a certificate granted for new and existing buildings that are optimised for carbon reduction. Passivhaus buildings use minimal energy for heating and cooling the inside environment. The standard ensures high-quality, low energy consuming, comfortable buildings.

Harris Academy Sutton

A remarkable project that showcases Willmott Dixon’s steps towards net zero operational carbon, is the Passivhaus certified Harris Academy Sutton in South London.

Completed in July 2019, the £38m project meets the stringent Passivhaus standards. The school’s energy consumption is typically 80% lower than a standard new building, resulting in significantly lower operating costs and carbon emissions.

For pupils and staff, better air quality, ideal thermal temperature and the right amount of natural light provides a healthy, productive environment, supporting better learning and wellbeing.

The company incorporated several methods to achieve the standard, including a ‘fabric-first’ approach, which ensures the building regulates energy efficiency passively. It centres on measures such as extra thick insulation in walls, floors and roof, triple-glazing on windows and doors, and an exceptionally airtight building envelope – approximately 14 times more airtight than building regulations require. Through exceptional insulation and air tightness, heat leakage through the windows, walls, floor and roof is prevented.

Other fabric elements include careful orientation and sizing of windows, together with selective shading to optimise solar gains in winter and prevent overheating in summer.

Further Passivhaus expertise

Harris Academy Sutton is an exemplar example of Willmott Dixon’s ‘Now or Never’ sustainability strategy in action. The company has since delivered Hackbridge Primary School, the UK’s first Passivhaus ‘Plus’ carbon positive school, which uses only 75% of the 100% renewable energy that it generates on the site, exporting the remaining 25% to the grid, generating income for the school.

Other Passivhaus projects delivered by Willmott Dixon include the recently completed Trethomas and Trecenydd Passivhaus residential scheme, consisting of 12 new one-bedroom apartments and six houses. The company is also working with Spelthorne Borough Council to deliver a Passivhaus leisure centre that aims to be one of the most advanced, energy efficient leisure facilities in the world.

With highly sustainable design providing a more comfortable environment for users, combined with significantly reduced energy costs, if any, in today’s volatile market, the Passivhaus standard is becoming an increasingly sought-after requirement for SCAPE and Willmott Dixon customers.

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