Large Chemistry Seminars

09:45 - 11:00

Opening Keynote – Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme Update

Keynote address &  Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme Update


Neal O'Leary, Programme Director - Sustainable Communities for Learning, Welsh Government

Sara Humber, Programme Director MIM - Sustainable Communities for Learning

Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Welsh Government

Chair: Emyr Harries


  • Emyr Harries Deputy Director - Education Business Planning and Governance, Welsh Government

  • Neal O’Leary Programme Director - Sustainable Communities for Learning - Welsh Government
  • Sara Humber Programme Director MIM - Sustainable Communities for Learning - Welsh Government
  • Jeremy Miles MS Minister for Education and Welsh Language
12:00 - 13:00

Session 2: Optimising Net Zero Carbon in Operation

Optimising Net Zero Carbon in Operation


Jane O'Leary, Strategic Advisor, Education, ISG

Rhodri Davies, Senior Sustainability Manager, ISG

Chair: Neil Thomas, Senior Associate, the-learning-crowd

For the sake of our climate and our future generations, the Welsh government are committed that all new schools in Wales are to be zero carbon.

Although there is still no legal definition of zero carbon, the most commonly used definition if that from the London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI), Zero Carbon design guide (Climate Emergency Design Guide | LETI) . This states that an educational building must use not more than 65 KWH/m2/year of total energy and that this remaining energy use must be from a certifiable, renewable tariff.

Accurate measurement of a building’s operational energy performance, is therefore, for the first time now important to many building professionals and occupiers. Unfortunately, unlike traditional environmental certifications to date this does not rely solely on the design and construction quality, but also the operational practises within the building and the maintenance procedures which are adhered to.

By remotely monitoring our buildings which have been designed and constructed to operate to these ‘net zero in operation’ standards, ISG are able to use real time data to understand how a building is performing. Using real time data, we can compare the performance with the predications from the thermal model of in use energy, using real time weather data and occupancy patterns. This not only allows us to understand the accuracy of our current modelling tools, and determine the building is being continuously commissioned correctly during the first few years of operation, but also identifies how willing occupiers are to operate buildings in ‘net zero carbon’ manner.

Introduction to Active Buildings

Speaker: Joanna Clarke, Design Manager, SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University

This presentation will provide an introduction to SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University and the Active Building concept they have developed as a solution to support the transition to a low carbon built environment. Active Buildings support local and national electricity grid networks by integrating renewable energy technologies, energy storage and smart controls for heat, power and transport. Several Active Building case studies will be presented, demonstrating the role Active Buildings can play in helping Wales and the UK meet their 2050 decarbonisation targets.


14:00 - 15:00

Session 4: Decarbonisation of Existing Estates

Helping existing schools get to net zero carbon


Alan Fogarty, Partner, Cundall

Peter Hazzard, Associate Director - Schools and Colleges Sector Lead, Cundall

Existing buildings are our biggest challenge when it comes to achieving net zero carbon, so Cundall has created a pilot project that aims to help existing schools lower their emissions.
The pilot involves Cundall analysing the carbon footprint of two primary schools and then advising on how to lower emissions, alongside contractors and supply chain partners, assisting them to make the necessary changes. The pilot not only has enormous social value, but also enables Cundall to double offset its emissions. Once with gold standard globally accredited schemes and with this initiative.
If successful, this pilot will be rolled out to Cundall’s global business and could also be adopted by other organisations in the industry as the trend toward investing in projects with net zero carbon and social value continues.

One of the main benefits of the pilot is social value. By helping the school lower its carbon emissions, we will be helping them save energy. Less energy cost equals more money to spend on other areas such as their curriculum. There will also be an educational element. Cundall staff will be able to present and discuss the findings and interventions with staff and pupils ensuring the next generation learn the importance of a sustainable built environment.

Cundall is already a carbon neutral business. We achieve this by continuously working to lower our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and then purchasing gold standard offsets for anything we cannot eliminate. However, the authenticity of many offsets has been brought into question, so this pilot ensures deliverability by retaining control over funds, so we know exactly what we are investing in. These local offsets will be in addition to the offsets we currently purchase and will ultimately help us and our industry partners with our ambition to be carbon positive by 2025.





  • Jon James Director + Architect - Jon James Studio Architecture

15:45 - 16:45

Session 6: Active Travel and Strategic Planning

Creating Sustainable Learning Communities: Supporting Active Travel Choices

Speaker: Dr Dafydd Trystan, Chair, Active Travel Board Wales

The presentation will outline the overall Welsh Government strategy for supporting Active Travel to Schools and other Education Settings, and draw on best practice examples of successful new build projects that have incorporated active travel as key features from the outset. It will set out a number of key elements of success to building zero carbon sustainable communities for learning including the transport infrastructure.

Black Mountains College

Black Mountains College is a new further and higher education college founded as a direct response to the ecological and climate crisis. Led by activist and writer Ben Rawlence, the school’s unique programme will connect the environment, society and the individual, to produce rounded, resilient leaders with a wide set of capabilities which can address a growing skills gap in Wales and the UK.

Featherstone Young are the architects designing the new campus in the Brecon Beacons National Park, crafting it from an existing farmstead, through both reuse of existing buildings and carefully sited new buildings.  Adopting the most effective sustainable principles it will promote active travel with cycling and walking as the primary mode of transport to and from the campus.


Sarah Featherstone, Director, Featherstone Young

Ben Rawlence, Black Mountains College


Opening Keynote – Welsh Government

Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme Update
Neal O'Leary, Programme Director Sustainable Communities for Learning, Welsh Government


  • Emyr Harries Deputy Director - Education Business Planning and Governance, Welsh Government

  • Neal O’Leary Programme Director - Sustainable Communities for Learning - Welsh Government
11:15 - 12:15

New Build Projects

Fitzalan High School
Victoria Slater, Associate Architect, Austin-Smith:Lord & Julie Holmes, Operational Manger - Capital Delivery, Cardiff Council

Case Study on the new build Fitzalan High School project in Cardiff - The brief calls for the provision of a replacement new 11-18 10FE high school including 350 post 16 places to address “D” condition categorisation and “D” categorised sufficiency issues in the local area. This £64m project represents a significant new facility for the pupils, staff and local community. Handing over soon to the LEA, the new school is built in the same area facing the catchment area that it serves. The scheme involved a significant enabling works package to re-provide and enhance leisure facilities for CAVC and other education and community sports stakeholders and helps to create a wider leisure and education masterplan in Leckwith.

A key brief objective was that the design of the new school should provide flexible and adaptable spaces to teach and learn the New Progressive Curriculum. The design delivers these principles and supports the changing role of the teacher as a facilitator of learning. The building is arranged broadly through sectional adjacencies into the new Area of Learning clusters with each cluster supported by a range of space types and sizes, supportive of project based and thematic learning. Three halls are positioned at the heart of the school, arranged in a dramatic sequence of spaces cutting diagonally through the building section, with main hall at ground spilling onto the dining space which is connected through learning steps to a Sixth Form Hall on first Floor, allowing options for accommodating large school events and engaging with Creative Partners and the wider community.

The whole school is accommodated within a single 3-storey ‘superblock’ arrangement, with a simple, efficient form set on a modular design grid providing an excellent framework in which we have created a wide range of exciting, flexible and adaptable learning spaces within.

MIM and Mynydd Isa Campus
Christian Stanbury, WEPCo & James Jones, Sheppard Robson

The Mynydd Isa Campus, set to open in November 2024, will accommodate over 1,300 pupils, aged 3 – 16, in a 113,000 square feet complex, and will be the first school delivered through the Welsh Education Partnership (WEPco) ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​

WEPco is a joint venture between the Development Bank of Wales (Welsh Government) and global investor Meridiam to design, build, finance, operate and maintain education infrastructure in Wales over 25 years‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌utilising the Welsh Government’s Mutual Investment Model (MIM) which sees private firms contracted to build and maintain public assets. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This session will explore an overview of the design of the campus, the stakeholder engagement, the challenges encountered on the way, how they were overcome and the lessons learnt.

The session will end with thoughts looking forward as future projects emerge.


  • Gareth Long Director / Education Consultant - the-learning-crowd

13:15 - 14:15

Refurbishment & Retrofit Projects

The Bute Building
Rob Stevens, Associate Architect, BDP

In 2021 the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) launched the first ever Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the UK Built Environment. Alongside the vision and policy recommendations for a Net Zero Carbon trajectory to 2050, the roadmap carried a stark message for the sector that buildings and construction make up a staggering 42% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Whilst there has been some progress in reducing the carbon footprint of new buildings, the elephant in the room is that 80% of the existing UK building stock will still be in use by 2050.

As an industry we must continue to maintain momentum towards designing new buildings which are sustainable and energy efficient, but there is also a vital need for the reuse and repurposing of our existing buildings in lieu of constructing new ones by default. Indeed, with the substructure and superstructure of buildings contributing the largest proportion of embodied carbon, refurbishment and reuse projects can play a crucial role in the future of UK construction in its target to decarbonise the built environment.

BDP’s recently completed retrofit of the Bute Building for the Welsh School of Architecture is a great example of how an existing historic building can be strategically repurposed with light-touch and targeted interventions that not only breathe new life into the building for future generations of architects but also significantly reduce its carbon impact.

Pen Y Dre – Net Zero Carbon in Operation
David Evans, Senior Design Manager, Morgan Sindall & Sophie Nicholls, Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme Manager, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Nick Marsh, Director, Lawray Architects & Mark Morant, Director, Arda Consulting

Construction has started at the 1970s Pen Y Dre comprehensive school in Merthyr Tydfil, a significant project delivering the first refurbished net zero carbon school in Wales. The scheme was partially funded by the Welsh Government as part of its Sustainable Communities Learning Programme.

Lawray is working with tier one contractor Morgan Sindall to deliver the scheme, which involves 'Enhanced Fabric PV Offsetting' by enhancing the building fabric and services. This includes 5,780m2 of PV required to offset the building’s total carbon emissions in the first year of operation. The project takes a Whole Life Carbon approach and predicts a 71% reduction of overall carbon emissions.

Assumptions were made regarding grid decarbonisation scenarios to 2050, and comparative options were developed, tested against buildability, and evaluated in line with capital and lifecycle costs. School stakeholders, involved in the Carbon Action Group, will be provided training on how to manage the building in-use. We will assist other local authorities, schools and construction teams to understand the steps needed to deliver NZC for retrofit strategies in their existing school estates.


15:15 - 16:15

Decarbonisation of Existing Estates

Decarbonising Colleges
Helen Groves, Architect Director, Atkins & Alex Anderson, Head of Estates Development & Facilities, Coleg Gwent College

Colleges have the same decarbonisation ambition as schools, but often with larger estates to manage. Coleg Gwent have recently been undergoing a review of their facilities to determine how to achieve their Net Zero ambitions, in the context of the wider Welsh Government requirements. This presentation will focus on managing the opportunities for estate improvement with a specific focus on vocational buildings, whilst improving the facilities for the particular needs of college users. Atkins have recently completed a feasibility exercise for the College and we will use this as an exploration into the wider themes.

What if retrofit paid for itself?
Romain Richli, Head of Climate and Environment, Bouygues

As “Whole Life” approaches are becoming adopted more and more throughout the industry sectors, the question of retrofitting existing assets including CAPEX & OPEX perspectives has (finally) gained more interest.

These considerations are at the core of our financial and environmental decisions, in Wales, in the UK and globally, where making decisions today impact our tomorrow.

Educational Buildings are perfect use cases to research, test, trial and prove the whole life benefits of energy retrofitting.

Bouygues UK will share with the audience key findings from their most recent studies.


  • Sam Rees Senior Public Affairs Officer - Wales - RICS

16:15 - 16:20

Move to final session

16:20 - 17:20

Policy into Practice

Panel session

  • Neal O’Leary, Programme Director – Sustainable Communities for Learning, Welsh Government
  • David Powell, Director of Corporate Estates, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council
  • Crawford Wright, Head of Architecture and Design: Schools and Colleges, Department for Education
  • Andy Dailly, Head of School Building, Scottish Government
  • Áine Cusack, Principal Officer - Schools Capital Appraisal Section, Department of Education, Government of Ireland


  • Helen Groves, Architect Director, Atkins


  • Crawford Wright Head of Architecture and Design: Schools and Colleges - Department for Education
  • Andy Dailly Head of School Building - Scottish Government
  • Áine Cusack Principal Officer - Schools Capital Appraisal Section - Department of Education
  • Neal O’Leary Programme Director - Sustainable Communities for Learning - Welsh Government
  • David Powell Director of Corporate Estates - Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council
17:30 - 17:30

Event Close