Back To School In Sunesis

We look at how an off-the-shelf approach to construction benefited a newly built primary school.

When Warwickshire County Council was looking to combine two local schools into one new building and needed absolute certainty over both the build cost and schedule, they turned to the Sunesis formula’s ‘off-the-shelf’ solution.

Sunesis, a joint venture between Scape and Willmott Dixon, is an innovative approach to fixed-cost construction that delivers public-sector buildings with speed, simplicity, and certainty. The process also includes Mitsubishi Electric’s most recent renewable heating system, which will now help to protect the school’s monthly energy costs.

Arley Primary School, near Nuneaton, has been built at Gun Hill on the site of the current infant school, combining it with nearby Herbert Fowler Junior School for £3.9 million.

It will accept a maximum of 315 children from the villages of Ansley, Old and New Arley, 45 in each year group, and will provide a wonderful learning environment for the community.

The Keynes model from Sunesis Education’s range of standardised, yet personalisable designs was used to construct the school, which includes 11 classrooms, a hall, catering kitchen, staffroom and offices, as well as an outdoor play area.

“The Sunesis process delivers high quality, modern designs on average 12 months faster and 30% cheaper than market alternatives,” Tim Carey, product director for Willmott Dixon, the construction partner – along with Scape, the public sector procurement specialists – behind the ‘off-the-shelf’ building concept, explained.

“Because all local governments are under increasing financial pressure, this system is assisting in lowering the cost of building new schools.”

Three Ecodan CAHV monobloc air source heat pumps will provide all of the heating and hot water that the school requires, with the Ecodan heating system operating effectively in ambient temperatures ranging from -20oC to 40oC, making it suitable for use all year.

“The addition of the Ecodan means that the school only requires about half the plant room required for a traditional gas or oil fired system, which not only saves on building costs but also frees up valuable additional space for education provision,” Carey added.

Up to 3.2kW of heat can be delivered to the building for every 1kW of electricity used to power an Ecodan CAHV air source heat pump; 69 percent of which is renewable energy, which means the school now qualifies for the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive. Arley Primary School will receive quarterly payments for the next 20 years as a result of this agreement.

The Sunesis formula also provides absolute guarantees on quality, costs, and timeframes, all while meeting legal OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) requirements. This is the publication in which all tenders from the public sector worth more than a certain amount must be published.

Sunesis is a joint venture that combines public sector know-how and private expertise through the combination of Scape (which is owned by local governments and ensures Sunesis is OJEU compliant) and construction specialists Willmott Dixon (one of the most recognised and trusted brands in the built environment).

Authorities can select the building they want from a selection of five individual school designs and personalise each one to meet their specific needs using a variety of pre-costed options.

“The beauty of this approach is that the Local Authority knows exactly what it is getting, when it will be delivered, and how much it will cost, right from the start of the process,” said Mark Robinson, group chief executive at Scape.

“In an era of increasing accountability, Sunesis provides councils with viable options that enable them to improve their learning spaces and deliver value for money while maintaining standards.”

Warwickshire County Council was the first local authority in the UK to use a Sunesis design for the new Oakfield Primary School in Rugby in 2012.

Sunesis, which was founded in 2011, has completed more than £25 million in school construction to date, with another £22 million in the works. Sunesis Primary School also offers the Newton, Paxton, and Dewey models, as well as other options for the Leisure and Care sectors.

Last Updated on December 30, 2021


Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

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