Innovative and eco-friendly Murray Centre
From the outset, the vision for the new Murray Centre in the heart of the Downe House campus included plans to minimise its carbon footprint and to meet the highest building standards in order to provide a state-of-the-art building which will take the School into the future.
In terms of the construction, this has meant a very close attention to detail and a highly technical approach to all aspects of the build. External Consultants have been regular visitors throughout the build to inspect every aspect of the intricate and technical build to ensure that it is meeting (and exceeding) the required BREEAM standards of performance for all the key environmental indicators.
The design of the building incorporates sustainable building materials and the contractor, Beard Construction was selected in part for its commitment to eco-friendly building practices and to creating future-proof buildings which are energy-efficient and sustainable. The building incorporates a high-tech natural ventilation system which takes in fresh air through the labyrinth built into the foundations of the building and circulates it throughout the space on all three levels funneling it up and out through the ‘chimney stack’ on the roof. This removes the need for an air conditioning system thereby removing the carbon dioxide output of such systems. Renewable energy in the form of PV solar panels on the roof of the Centre for Learning will generate all the building’s energy requirements and are a key element of the plan to ensure that the building meets the required BREEAM specifications.
Underfloor heating is considered to be the most efficient and sustainable way to heat a building and has been installed throughout every level of the Murray Centre. It requires significantly less energy input to create an ambient and constant temperature. Around 60% of the building’s facades consist of glass panels which are gas-filled and double glazed fitted within a curtain walling system which both provides excellent insulation for the building as well as flooding the interior of the building with natural light thus saving on artificial lighting requirements and keeping the building warm.
The whole building is managed by a high-tech Building Management System which will monitor the outside air temperature, wind direction and automatically open and close windows and air vent louvres to maintain a high air quality and consistent temperature.
Inside the building, all the electrical appliances which have been purchased have an energy efficiency rating of A and in line with the policy adopted throughout the School to minimise the use of unrecyclable materials, the Café will be using bamboo cups and the absolute minimum of plastic materials. The Café will be selling food provided by The Honesty Group, a food business with a mission of combining the best of local produce with an honest approach.
Director of Estates, Property and Services, Alasdair Heath said, “Over the past few years, the estates development strategy for the School has incorporated measures for improving the sustainability of our buildings and doing what we can to minimise the impact our buildings and activities have on the environment. Starting with the new Lower School boarding houses, the Murray Centre has taken this on to another level with a fully natural ventilation system and underfloor heating throughout the building and PV panels on the roof meeting all of the building’s energy requirements. I would like to thank our architects, engineers and contractors who have gone over and above to ensure that we create a sustainable and environmentally responsible building.”
The Murray Centre opened for business in early November for a ‘testdrive’ period in which every yeargroup is spending time exploring the new space, trying out the Café and the Library as well as attending a number of events planned in the new Auditorium.