An award-winning school in Hadleigh shows that it’s possible to build the best in new and green, with a bit of help from national grant schemes.

Beaumont Community Primary School opened in 2003 and is a model of sustainability. It houses 165 pupils, including a nursery, in an eco-friendly building that is crammed with environmental innovations.

It is built from wood and clad in untreated western cedar, chosen because of its natural resistance to rot and insect attack. Insulation – above the minimum standards – is made from recycled newspaper. The building has a green roof, which requires little maintenance and helps keep the building cool in summer and warm in winter as well as providing a rich habitat for birds, butterflies and insects. A rainwater recovery system collects and filters water, which is then used to flush the toilets.

A wind turbine, part funded by the government’s Clear Skies initiative and SCC, generates up to 6kw of electricity – enough, on an average day, to run all the computers in the ICT suite. A further 1kW is produced by a number of photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof, also part-funded by a grant from the DTI, which produce enough power to run the lights in two classrooms. When more electricity is generated than the school needs, the surplus is sold back to the national grid.

Solar heat collector panels have also been installed on the roof to heat water, reducing the use of the gas boilers, and is heated by efficient underfloor heating. The school produces around 8 tonnes less CO2 per annum compared to a conventional school of a similar size, as well as benefiting from much lower running costs.

A school is the ideal place to demonstrate environmental principles in action, creating opportunities for children to see and learn about the technologies used – and at Beaumont, display screens in the hall show real-time information about the school’s energy and water use, which is then used in maths and science classes. The headmistress says “The children love their new school and have quickly taken on board the whole concept of renewable energy. The building provides a stimulating environment that positively impacts on the quality of the children’s learning.”

And it’s not just the pupils who love their new school. It has won a clutch of awards including the prestigious top prize in the 2006 National Energy Efficiency Awards run by UK CEED.

The school was designed by the in-house property design team at Suffolk County Council worked in a design-build arrangement with private sector companies