08 August 2007


WORK on one of the most eco-friendly schools in the UK began today as construction work started on the new £5.5 million Hillside School in Whitleigh.

Pupils, teachers and councillors joined construction company Midas to break the turf and celebrate the commencement of the 13-month project.

Hillside School has 89 pupils between the ages of 11 and 16 who have complex learning difficulties as well as emotional and behavioural problems.Orignally opened over thirty years ago, the old school is to be demolished and replaced with a new two-storey, purpose-built school for the future.

Every element of the project has been developed with long-term sustainabilty in mind using natural or recycled materials where possible.  Starting with a timber frame using wood from sustainable sources, recycled paper insulation and organic paints, the new building will be green from the ground up. 

Ongoing sustainability is also high on the agenda with many energy-saving measures including natural lighting and ventillation, solar power, underfloor heating provided by underground thermal bore holes, and rainwater flushing toilets.

The Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Councillor Grant Monahan, said: "Some of the ideas that have been put forward are truly cutting edge and this is incredibly exciting.

"It is a fascinating idea to think they will be learning in a school which will be built in a manner that will help protect their future. Plymouth is leading the way"

The new school will also bring benefits to the wider community with a new multi-use games area (MUGA) community meeting room and amphitheatre event space. 

Richard Ellis, Divisional Manager for Midas, said: "We are delighted to be working on this innovative and prestigious project.  We have gained a solid track record in delivering successful education projects across both Plymouth and the South West as a whole.  We are also using some of the most cutting edge green technologies in the sector on major commercial, residential and healthcare projects throughout the region.  This project gives us an exciting opportunity to combine those skills to deliver a building that will benefit the pupils, commmuntiy and ultimately the planet.

"The role of the construction industy in achieving a low-carbon economy cannot be undestimated.  This project will help us to set the benchmark for schools and other educational buildings in the future."

The existing school will remain open during the new construction with the new school scheduled for completion Autumn 2008.

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