Eco-friendly school shows green future

A FUTURISTIC, eco-friendly school complete with grass roofs, its own wind turbine and a rainwater collection system to flush the toilets has been unveiled.

The 3 million Deanburn Primary School in Bo'ness, West Lothian, which will be officially opened today, replaces the old building, which was virtually destroyed by fire three years ago.

The school, believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, also has "breathing walls" to reduce the need for artificial ventilation and its own weather station to measure atmospheric changes and make lessons more interesting for pupils.

Martha Whittington, the headteacher, revealed yesterday that the school had struck a deal which will enable it to sell unused electricity generated by its wind turbine to the National Grid. The turbine cost 40,000 to construct.

Mrs Whittington, who took over at the school shortly after the fire, said she believed it could prove to be an example of how all schools should be designed in a more environmentally-conscious age.

She said: "The wind turbine will produce half the school's power and if there's any excess, we can sell it to the National Grid, which will help us raise funds. The school's guttering collects the rainwater and channels it into an underground water tank, which pumps it back into the school and it is used to flush the toilets.

"We also have two grass roofs, which are good for insulation as well as being low-maintenance and very colourful.

"The walls are insulated with recycled paper, which makes them breathable and improves the air quality in the building.

"I've worked in open-plan schools, semi open-plan as well as the more traditional buildings, and this is a beautiful building. The staff love working in it and it's also a super learning environment for the pupils.

"For instance, the weather station means that the children feel they are much more a part of the lesson, rather than simply reading from books."

Mrs Whittington said people involved with building schools from other parts of the country had been impressed with the results at Deanburn and she expected its success to be repeated elsewhere.

Pupils and staff moved into the school in May and it has been such a success that Falkirk Council is looking to embark on similar projects at primary schools in Maddiston and Larbert.

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