16/05/2022 - Permalink

Council and partners win national award for carbon neutral school build

Related topics: Children's services / Climate change / environment

Shropshire Council, Read Construction Holdings Ltd and PSG (Shropshire Council’s Property Services Group) have won a national award for its carbon neutral teaching hub at Meole Brace School.

CE West Midlands Award logo

Constructing Excellence West Midlands Awards Net Zero Winner

Read Construction Holdings Ltd were one of 8 applicants shortlisted for the Net Zero category for the Constructing Excellence West Midlands Awards 2022.

The project, designed by PSG and awarded to Read Construction Holdings Ltd, is one of the first to drive the change towards more sustainable projects to meet the council’s 2030 carbon targets.

CE West Mid Awards Net Zero Winners

Constructing Excellence West Midlands Awards – Winners of the Net Zero category

Winning team being presented with the award. Left to right Lucy Fletcher (Shropshire Council), Damien Bryan (Read Construction), Harvey Gould (Shropshire Council) and Alex Read (Read Construction)

Winning team being presented with the award. Left to right Lucy Fletcher (Shropshire Council), Damian Bryan (Read Construction), Harvey Gould (Shropshire Council) and Alex Read (Read Construction)


The new two-storey building will form the RE teaching ‘hub’ for Meole Brace School and will also have an external recreation area.

Five classrooms will be provided along with a small group meeting room, a staff room, toilets, and storage. The building occupies a prominent site at the front of the school campus and has been built to the highest modern standards.

The development has been commended for its innovative design solutions that make a positive contribution to alleviate the climate change emergency. This sustainable project was carefully designed and constructed with net-zero carbon credentials and has enhanced biodiversity and habitats.

The Vanguard Building represents a key step forward in building design for the council.  It has been designed to be ‘zero-carbon’ and is a demonstration of the council’s commitment to responding to the climate crisis. The building is highly efficient and has been built to achieve the internationally respected Passivhaus standard, a first for a Shropshire education facility.

Net Zero category

The Net Zero category demonstrates the high environmental and climate performance in construction that aims to meet present day needs for housing, working environments and infrastructure without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs in times to come.

This award looks at those projects that seek to limit impact on the natural environment and demonstrate whole life sustainability. It is most effective when organisational culture, high design quality, technical innovation and transferability have been prioritised.

Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for climate change, natural assets, and the green economy, said:

“I am absolutely delighted that we’ve won the Net Zero category for the Constructing Excellence West Midlands Awards 2022   This is one of two awards we’ve won in the past week that contribute to supporting our Climate Change strategy.

“The Meole-Brace Vanguard Building represents record-breaking levels of Sustainability for Shropshire Council delivering a future proofed education facility that stands out from the crowd as a “first of a kind” in achieving Net Zero operational carbon.

“Winning this award truly demonstrates the benefits of working in partnership and utilising the right expertise and skills of all those involve. It also inspires us to even higher expectation of sustainability in the future and provide us the opportunity to really stand out from the crowd.”

“I would like to say a huge congratulations to all involved”

Alex Read, Director at Read Construction, added:

“The Net Zero agenda is the biggest challenge facing the construction industry in recent years. As we all strive to deliver more and more sustainable solutions, it is no surprise that the Net Zero award category at this years CE Midlands awards was such a coveted accolade. Our project shone through as a beacon of what can be achieved when all parties work together to maximise sustainable outcomes.

“We look forward to taking the lessons learned throughout this project to inform other schemes and continue driving our Zero Carbon developments.”

Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, said:

“This is fantastic news! Winning such an accolade is a testament to everyone involved.

“Our new state of the art teaching hub at Meole Brace school is one of several projects we are investing in to secure high-quality and sustainable provision of primary and secondary places in Shrewsbury and surrounding areas.

“As a beacon of sustainable excellence, we are so proud of the team who have developed the site. The fit for purpose build, will benefit children and future generations, as well as the local and wider community.

“They have truly set a benchmark for others to follow.”

Judging panel

The judging panel recognised the commitment of the integrated team of designers, client, school stakeholders, contractor (Read Construction) and supply partners, and their ambition to put climate change solutions at the heart of this project.

Winners were announced at the Constructing Excellence West Midlands Awards 2022 event on 12 May at Edgbaston, Birmingham

You can see the team being presented with the award here.

You can find out more on the awards here: About the awards – West – Constructing Excellence Midlands

To find out more about PSG and the Meole Brace School – Vanguard Building, visit Meole Brace School – The Vanguard Building – PSG (shropshire.gov.uk)

Further information

The sustainable project was commissioned by Shropshire Council’s learning and skills team in response to increasing demand for secondary school places in Shrewsbury.  PSG carried out initial feasibility work, proceeded to establish the design for the building and set out the high environmental standards.  The contract was tendered on a Design and Build basis and awarded to Wrexham-based contractor Read Construction Ltd.

Contractor’s design team: –

  • Architects: TACP Architects
  • Passivhaus Consultant: HLM Architects
  • M&E Consultant: Davies Partnership
  • Structural Engineers: JP Structural Design

The project was carefully designed and constructed with Net Zero credentials and evidences quantifiable biodiversity, community and local gains through minimising both capital and in use Waste and Carbon.

Maintenance and energy efficiencies will continue beyond typical 40-60 year whole life assessment, with masonry superstructure extending this to beyond 120 years.

Shropshire Council’s Climate Change Strategy

Shropshire Council’s Climate Strategy sets out bold targets:

  • Be a Net Zero Authority by 2030
  • Adapt service delivery to address the impacts of extreme weather events
  • Deliver on corporate responsibilities to the environment and local communities
  • Lead by example