ARK Brunel Primary Academy



The new ARK Brunel Primary Academy is constructed from Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels, providing a warm and inspiring environment for 420 pupils, including 16 place special needs and 40 nursery places. The new building uses various levels to offer increased outdoor play and teaching areas, providing a flexible learning environment.

Sustainable design

The building was designed using Building Information Modelling (BIM), which allowed the whole of the CLT structure, and also other components, to be pre-fabricated off-site. BIM also helped identify design and co-ordination issues and saved 5,000 hours across the team, whilst the use of Webex for BIM meetings saved unnecessary travel.

The building is naturally ventilated and uses a combination of automated and manual controls to ensure optimum internal conditions. There are high levels of insulation helping to limit the use of the efficient gas heating system. 110m2 of roof-mounted Photo-voltaic (PV) panels produce a source of renewable energy. A green roof attenuates rainwater and creates a habitat for wildlife, thereby increasing biodiversity. It also helps to regulate the temperature of the building by absorbing solar radiation and providing additional insulation.

A BREEAM excellent building,
awarded silver at 2014 CCS awards

Tackling climate change

From the first day, the team worked with the school to connect to temporary electrics which reduced the need for diesel generators. A power down switch ensured that once the last operative had left site, all non-essential electrics were switched off overnight, helping to manage out-of-hours electricity consumption.

The timber construction of the school is inherently low carbon to build, with offsite fabrication and less time on site reducing overall energy requirements. The use of strip piling (due to the relative light weight of the structure) also minimised the need for carbon intensive ground works. The design benefits and our efficient approach have led to the project achieving a carbon benchmark 39% lower than our average new build school (at 8.6tCO2/£m project value at practical completion vs. an average of 14.16 for comparable education projects).

A carbon benchmark 39% lower than
our average new build school

Resource efficiency

The CLT frame was delivered to site prefabricated. Only three people were required to put the timber sections together with the help of a crane operator, making for an extremely efficient construction. Prefabrication also reduced waste produced on site and associated waste transport movements, reducing impacts such as noise and disruption to our neighbours; all of which helped us to reduce our social and environmental impacts. 

Throughout the build, resources were used as efficiently as possible. Features from the old school, including heritage entrance keystones were reused and incorporated into the new building – the old stone arches now act as outside as stone benches, for all to use.

We worked hard to ensure that timber pallets were not sent to landfill or chipped for biomass. Instead pallets were either taken back by suppliers, or removed by Scott Pallets for refurbishment and reuse. This reduced waste and also gave a cost saving compared to traditional waste disposal or recycling.

Prefabrication reduced our social and environmental impacts

Sourcing responsibly

100% of the timber had full chain of custody, ensuring all timber was sourced from legal and sustainable sources. The spruce CLT panels were supplied by B&K Structures via their X-LAM Alliance. A specialist in these products and only supplying FSC or PEFC certified timber, they were able to ensure that all 824m3 of the CLT panels were sourced from PEFC certified, well managed forests.

100% of timber had full chain of custody

Community engagement

The site team won two BAM regional environmental awards, and decided to donate £500 to the local Hornimans adventure playground and £500 to the charity Shooting Starts. Hornimans were able to use this for smoothie making, helping to encourage healthy eating in young people in the community, and Shooting Stars, a hospice for children with terminal conditions, were able to create a sensory garden.

The CLT was delivered to site with wooden bearers protecting the panels during transit. Once delivered, this excess timber was donated to the College of North West London for use in their construction department. In all, approximately 6m3 of timber was sent to the college for use in carpentry activities.

BAM are keen to encourage women into the construction industry. Two weeks of work experience were organised for a female student from the local College of North West London, and one of our subcontractors, Haslemere Construction Ltd were able to employ two women through ‘Women in Construction’. Monthly site visits were organised throughout the project for local children and local carpentry students, who attended site visits to the timber building first- hand.








Excess wooden bearers sent to a local college for carpentry.

Health and Wellbeing

The health and safety of operatives is paramount, easi-edge protection was fitted onto the CLT panels at ground level and trip hazard flags put up, while each month a hamper of fruit was awarded to the subcontractor with the highest monthly environmental score to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Monthly fruit hampers helped encourage a healthy lifestyle 


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