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St Mark’s Boys School

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St Mark’s Boys School – Renovating history

by Hamish Wilson, CEO, Minus7

Built in 1897, St Mark’s Boys’ Schoolhouse’s beautiful façade stands testament to the architectural detail of Norwich’s late Victorian heritage. Surviving with little visible external alteration, the Schoolhouse has been sympathetically refurbished into eight energy efficient apartments by Norwich based Lomax Builders Ltd.

From memorabilia found during the renovation – generation upon generation of local families were educated here. Names mischievously carved into the rear brick wall, secret notes written in childish scrawl stuffed behind old timber panes; boys turned into men here – many of whom fought with distinction for their country in the (First) and Second World Wars.

Lomax Builders, conscious of the Schoolhouse’s rich heritage, completed the extensive renovation of the building within just 12 months, putting in place a number of sustainable energy efficient solutions, whilst still preserving the architecture. Extensive thermal wall insulation, under-floor heating and high performance period-style timber windows and doors were used throughout.

The draughty building with solid walls and high-vaulted ceilings required an innovative solution to go above and beyond the modern energy efficiency requirements of the local planning department. As the roof needed replacing, Minus7 Ltd’s hybrid renewable energy system was the obvious choice. Planning permission was not a challenge for Lomax Builders as Minus7’s solar endothermic tile-planks closely match Welsh slate in look and weight and collect energy efficiently night and day.

Using the best of solar thermal, heat pump and energy storage technologies in one simple building-integrated solution, Minus7 provides consistent low carbon heat and hot water to the latest occupants of the Schoolhouse. The low running costs of the system enables the new landlord to incorporate heating and hot water bills within the monthly rental payment – simultaneously increasing the disposable income of the tenants and providing the landlord with an additional revenue stream.

St Mark’s Boys School

As the Schoolhouse boasts the remnants of a massive playground at the rear of the building, Minus7 Ltd’s in-house design team have situated the solar energy processor outside; thermal stores used to heat the building are hidden beneath decking in the newly created courtyard, with plenty of room left for parking. The internal pipework for the Minus7 system is buried within the insulation of the walls and floor, providing further thermal efficiencies. Even the grand double entrance door is thermally efficient with special thermal raised and fielded panels created to match the original door design – offering wheelchair access and the added benefit of low U-values.

The only major challenge for this project was the location of the Schoolhouse – situated close to a busy road that feeds traffic directly into the city of Norwich; additional acoustic glazing to the windows virtually eliminates external noise. “The result is a warm, quiet and energy efficient building with an improved energy rating certificate from a lowly F to a massively improved B,” says David Lomax, Technical Director, Lomax Builders Ltd.

“Great care has gone into the preservation of the building’s beautiful façade and we have made an investment to ensure the building will provide affordable, sustainable heat with whole-life cost benefits, low maintenance and reduced environmental impact.  This will ensure the building will last for another hundred years.”

Lomax Builders have been so impressed with the Minus7 zero carbon technology, its working with Minus7 on another development. Watch Minus7 technology being installed on St Mark’s Boys School House on the website http://www.minus7.co.uk/how-it-works/

For further information follow: @minus7UK

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