As COP26 is taking place, the Department for Education has appointed leading school contractor BAM to create a ‘pathfinder’ college that develops sustainable design for building new schools. The teaching and communal building is Southam College in Warwickshire’s which has 1652 students.

The College is a ‘pathfinder’ for several reasons. It will achieve net zero carbon emissions (see note for definition) and low energy use, but in addition, uses passive design, biophilic design, climate resilience, and health and wellbeing elements.

The scheme intends to set the bar and guide how schools are built in the future.

BAM’s involvement is wide-ranging. Not only is it the contractor, but its design team is lead architect, and it has conducted extensive energy and climate modelling, interior design, and is providing the school with a strategy for achieving a net zero carbon in operation position for the rest of the estate’s life. 

It is also behind the structural engineering and MEP design.

“The building will be net zero in operation, and we are also reducing the embodied carbon – the carbon in the actual materials used in the construction. We’ve evaluated the base design and produced a range of options to reduce embodied carbon.  

“What we learn from Southam College will feed into the Department’s wider approach to reducing carbon in the education field. In addition, we’ll add additional significant extra social value by using local companies in our supply chain, and work around the school so classes and activities continue uninterrupted during the project.

“BAM has robust strategies responding to the climate emergency we face and putting the health and wellbeing of the students and teachers at the core of the new facilities.”

Dave Ellis

Regional Director, Midlands

Southam College, part of Stowe Valley Multi Academy Trust, educates 11-18 year old students and was graded outstanding at its last Ofsted report.  Ranjit Samra, Head Teacher of Southam College, said:  "The new school design meets the highest environmental and sustainability standards and will be a symbol of how much we value our students, staff and wider community. It will help to raise expectations that anything is possible."

New facilities include science labs, a hall, drama facilities, 3D art room, photographic facilities, food tech areas, music rooms, a sixth form hub, reception, and a dedicated Special Educational Needs base. There will also be an AV teaching wall facility. BAM’s ICT partner is Data Spire.

BAM has just commenced enabling works and will provide post-occupancy support to the school to help it make best use of the new facilities.