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Ruddle Wilkinson attempts to create first eco-school - image

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Work is about to begin on the new Howe Dell primary school in Hatfield, Hertfordshire - hailed as the country's first 'eco-school.'

Designed by Ruddle Wilkinson, the £10 million scheme will feature a 50 kilowatt wind turbine, a low-energy ventilation and heating system as well as photovoltaic cells, a grass roof and natural-timber cladding.

Other sustainable features include a Carbon Trust-funded 'inter-seasonal heat store' and a TermoDeck heat-recovery system.

The project, for Hertfordshire County Council, will also house a nursery, a community centre and a child day-care facility on the site of a former British Aerospace aerodrome.

Describing the scheme, a spokesman said: 'The simple rectangular shape [of the school] orientates teaching and open space to the south with pastoral and administration spaces to the north: all teaching areas have dedicated external classrooms, so that the whole site forms the learning environment.

'The children's involvement with the project begins with the construction process, including regular visits to the site for them to view key stages of the build.'

Headteacher Debra Massey said she is also looking forward to teaching in the new school. 'Everyone at Howe Dell is very excited about the move to such an innovative building,' she said.

'We have introduced an enriched curriculum with sustainable education principles at its core, and the new site will give endless opportunities for pupils to review energy conservation.'

The school is expected to open its doors in Easter 2007.

by Richard Waite

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