After the pandemic and last year’s virtual conference, it was great to be back at the Education Estates Conference 2021 and awards dinner in Manchester this year.
The conference brings together the educational community from Department of Education (DfE) and school Trusts to contractors, manufacturers and professionals. The event was attended by Managing Director Matt Golds, Director Peter Stephens and Senior Architect Zane Putne, who also spoke on the second day of the conference about inclusive learning environments and the importance of considering pupils well-being in both existing and new learning environments with lessons from SEN also being applied to mainstream environments.
The keynote speaker on the first day of the conference was the newly appointed Secretary of State at the Department of Education Baroness Barran who noted the importance of “shaping a sustainable future for learning environments”, which was also this year’s overarching topic.
Throughout the conference talks two main themes emerged: climate emergency and how the target towards net zero carbon could and should be driven forwards, as well as well-being, which in hardly surprising given the pandemic and the impact it had on children and young adults over the past 2 years.
In a talk about how to get existing estates to net zero carbon, chaired by Debbie Hobbs, Group Director of Sustainable Business at ISG, a damning statistic was shared that by 2050, the schools energy consumption should be reduced by 60-80% to achieve the targets. Whilst we know that all new building now should be designed to low / net zero carbon, existing estates do need more considerable upgrades to achieve this, involving building envelope (insulation, air tightness etc) and MEP systems. DfE recognise that more funding is needed to achieve zero carbon / energy reduction and at least in new building projects certain aspects are now prescribed in the Output Specification.
It was great to see so many great samples of recent projects where the forementioned principles have been applied and celebrated, including UK’s first biophilic school, presented by Duncan Craig, Pilots and Pathfinder Lead at the Department for Education.
At the end of the first day of the conference, an Awards dinner was held celebrating the best in education over the last year. Noviun were shortlisted for Architectural Practice of the year and whilst we did not win, we would like to congratulate all awards winners.
We would like to thank the Education Estates Conference 2021 organisers and we look forward to attending the next year’s conference in Manchester already.