Crouch Hill Park, London, UK

About the building

The scheme at Crouch Hill Park is transforming unkempt, metropolitan open land in North London into an exemplar carbon-negative development. Plans include a new building for Ashmount Primary School and Bowlers Nursery, which is the focus of the BREEAM Certification. The surrounding parkland is undergoing complete regeneration and a youth centre on the site will be renovated. The project will also supply low carbon energy to nearby affordable housing.

The brief set by the local authority outlined targets for zero carbon emissions during operation, zero waste during demolition and construction, zero parking on site and a BREEAM Outstanding rating for the new building.

Designs are based on the concept of a tree house to connect the building with the surrounding woodland environment. The combination of a sophisticated energy strategy, low impact materials and ecological enhancement across the entire site has resulted in a BREEAM Outstanding rating.

The project has been awarded £500k through the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) Low and Zero Carbon Schools – Pilot and Exemplar Projects initiative.

Further information

Key facts

  • BREEAM rating: Outstanding
  • Score: 90.49%
  • Size: Floor area: 3471m2 GIA (3130m2 NIA including circulation)
  • Stage: Interim Design
  • BREEAM version: Education 2008

Overview of environmental features

Negative carbon – the site at Crouch Hill absorbs more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits annually.

Passive design features – include good natural daylight, brise soleil and solar glass, best practice levels of insulation and good thermal mass coupled with night time cooling.

Predominantly naturally ventilated – innovative E-stack ventilation units provide low energy air movement when required. There is no artificial cooling in the school except in the IT server room. Ventilation standards allow for future proofing against climate change

District heating scheme – links together the buildings and facilities on the site with nearby local authority housing. A combination of biomass and CHP technologies provide low carbon energy, which is exported to the housing to offset carbon emissions produced on-site, thus producing a carbon negative scheme

Water – minimal consumption with efficient sanitary ware and a combination of greywater recycling and rainwater harvesting systems.

Materials – A-rated Green Guide products with a high proportion of recycled materials. More than 80% of building materials were responsibly sourced as per BREEAM requirements. High levels of recycled content in the materials (min. 30%),

Bio-diversity– The site is an area of Significant Ecological Importance, with protected wildlife habitats, ecological diversity and a rare topography for London. Proposals include the use of brown roofs that encourage biodiversity and reduce rainwater runoff. Bat and bird boxes have been incorporated into the external elevations and the proposed landscape includes native hedges and enhanced woodland habitat for bats and birds. In addition, the location of the new school, ecology centre and youth centre in this enhanced woodland park will help raise awareness of issues around ecology and sustainability.

Landscape –The landscape proposals have been carefully considered to protect the existing ecology along the Parkland Walk, enhancing it where possible, and creating a new, biodiverse ecology where it has degraded.  The landscape strategy also aims to improve access and security, re-connecting the site with its community and existing isolated areas by creating new routes and paths and improving visibility across and through the site.

Construction waste – zero waste will be sent to landfill. Demolition materials from existing buildings will be reused to create a biodiverse habitat on the school roof.

Construction Impacts – low energy site temporary offices, no car parking on site, dust monitoring, acoustic monitoring, environmental training for all operatives.

Considerate Contractors Scheme – exemplary scores above 36/40 have been awarded on two visits to the site.

The BREEAM assessment

The building scored well across the BREEAM categories:

  • Energy – 100%
  • Waste – 100%
  • Management – 95%
  • Land Use & Ecology – 91.7%
  • Materials – 80%
  • Water – 75%
  • Pollution – 72.73%
  • Health & Wellbeing – 68.75%
  • Transport – 66.67%
  • Innovation – 60%

Building services

Heating – an energy centre at the youth centre supplies heating and electricity to Ashmount Primary School and Bowlers Nursery via an underground network of pipes. A gas-fired combined heat and power system provides the base heating requirement, with a biomass boiler meeting peak time demands. Under floor heating is provided throughout most of the building.

Ventilation – uses a combination of cross ventilation and stack ventilation techniques. E-Stack units are provided in teaching spaces to eliminate cold draughts in winter and provide a ventilation boost on hot, still summer days. Specialist areas (such as kitchens and changing rooms) are mechanically ventilated. Mechanical extract only is provided to toilets.

Cooling – the building maintains comfortable temperatures using passive measures. Artificial cooling is provided only in the IT server room.

Lighting – low energy lights are fitted throughout the building, with a combination of daylight and occupancy sensors ensuring lights are off when it is unoccupied.

Building handover – the Soft Landings initiative will help building users to understand the systems and technologies in order to run the building efficiently.

Water recycling – the first commercial application of EcoPlay greywater recycling units for WCs. Water used in basins is channelled to WC cisterns to flush toilets.

Green strategy

The Crouch Hill scheme’s green strategy goes beyond BREEAM requirements in a number of ways including:

Carbon negative – a combination of passive and active design measures minimise energy consumption, and the use of low carbon and renewable technologies offset the remaining carbon footprint.

Surrounding buildings – existing gas-fired boilers at nearby affordable housing will be replaced by low carbon heating from a CHP system and biomass boiler. BREEAM does not currently credit projects for improving energy sources for surrounding buildings.

Parkland regeneration – landscape proposals aim to open up areas of Crouch Hill Park, create safe connections and improve planting and wildlife increasing its attractiveness for the local community and encouraging visitors from surrounding areas.

Project team details

  • Client: London Borough of Islington
  • Developer: London Borough of Islington
  • Architect: Penoyre & Prasad LLP
  • Main Contractor: Willmott Dixon Construction
  • M&E Engineers: Ramboll
  • Sustainability Consultants and BREEAM Assessor: Ramboll
  • Transport and Drainage: Ramboll
  • Structural Engineer: AKT II
  • Acoustic consultant: Cole Jarman Limited
  • Ecologist: The Ecology Consultancy
  • Landscape Architect: Grontmij
  • Project Management: Davis Langdon
  • Life Cycle Costing Analysis: Davis Langdon
  • Fire Engineering Consultant: Circulation Design Ltd

Hayley Maxwell, Senior sustainability engineer at Ramboll said:

‘By achieving an Outstanding BREEAM rating at the design stage, the environmental performance of Ashmount Primary School and Bowlers Nursery is benchmarked as exemplar, and can be used as a learning resource for both the building users and local community.’

Crouch Hill Long Crop


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