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Carbon Positive

BUilding generates more energy than it uses in year


school places created


Award-winning UK first

Top award for UK's first Passivhaus Plus school

Hackbridge Primary School named winner in the non-domestic category at the UK Passivhaus Awards 2023.

The UK’s first Passivhaus Plus school – built by Willmott Dixon for the London Borough of Sutton - has won an industry award for setting the standard for zero carbon educational buildings.

Hackbridge Primary School, completed in 2019, won at the presitigious awards, which are hosted by the UK Passivhaus Trust and recognise buildings that meet the highest standards of energy efficiency, comfort, and sustainability .

Designed by specialist architects, Architype, the zero-carbon school has proven itself highly efficient, generating its own renewable energy, and providing a beautifully comfortable space to nurture inquisitive minds. By integrating Passivhaus principles of airtightness and insulation with additional renewable technologies, the school surpasses RIBA's 2030 operational energy targets, generating more energy than the building consumes throughout the year.

Described as a ‘modernist version of a log cabin’, Hackbridge is constructed from a lightweight timber frame and filled with Warmcel recycled newspaper blown insulation. As a result, Hackbridge exceeds the LETI’s 2020 embodied carbon targets, with the building using half the embodied carbon of a typical ‘business as usual’ building. Notably, the timber structure supports a green roof, made up of a variety of plants including sedum, ferns and wildflowers, provides a natural canvas for the building’s solar PV panels.

To ensure optimum performance, Willmott Dixon has monitored the building since handover in October 2019 using our Energy Synergy™ approach to ensure energy use is optimised and carbon emissions are further reduced. As a result, energy use has decreased by an impressive 10,000kWh/annum from its peak use, while energy generation has increased by 40,000kWh/annum from its lowest yield.

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Doug Drewniak, Senior Building Performance Manager at Willmott Dixon, said: “Hackbridge Primary School has been built to offer best in class energy efficiency and be fit for a changing climate, providing a comfortable temperature at all times of the year. Our ongoing monitoring and analysis of the school’s in-use energy performance is helping drive down the school’s day-to-day operating costs.

“I’m really proud of Willmott Dixon’s part in creating one of greenest, most efficient schools in the world, working in harmony with its natural surroundings creating an inspiring and healthy environment for children.”

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Adam Whiteley, Senior Project Manager, London Borough of Sutton, said: “This is a building that had to be an exemplar for zero carbon and sustainability. The project team rose to the challenge. The result is a beautiful school that celebrates our natural world and inspires children in their learning every day.”

Willmott Dixon is a Patron member of the UK Passivhaus Trust, with Doug Drewniak a member of the Educational Steering Group. For more detail about the school's Passivhaus Plus certification visit: