Queensferry High School

Main entrance to Queensferry High School - Image: Ryder Architects

Main entrance to Queensferry High School - Image: Ryder Architects


Barry McAvoy. Ramboll

Barry McAvoy

Director, Buildings
T: +44 141 225 1000
Ramboll. Andrew Lyons.

Andrew Lyons

Team Director and hotels and resorts lead
T: +44 141 225 1000
Graeme McCutcheon. Ramboll

Graeme McCutcheon

Associate, Ramboll SCT
T: +44 7867 450 096

With latest research showing a direct link between indoor air quality and classroom concentration levels, Ramboll, in partnership with Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), is applying Danish building design principles to create a sustainable learning environment at Queensferry High School.

Collaborating with the school, architect and SFT, Ramboll is designing the new Queensferry High School building, placing student wellbeing at the forefront and featuring state-of-the-art ventilation, heating and lighting to ensure optimum classroom performance. Serving 760 students aged between 12 and 18, the building will be constructed on the sports pitches adjacent to the existing school building. It will offer general teaching facilities and community functions and will include a swimming pool and fitness suite. The building is designed on a ‘faculty model’ with functions relating to specific subjects co-located and opening out to shared teaching areas.

Improving classroom air quality

Recent research has shown a clear link between air quality in schools and offices and the performance of students and workers. Put simply if CO2 levels are lower, if an ambient temperature is maintained throughout rooms without pockets of hot or cool air created by open windows or solar glare, then concentration levels, results and general health will improve.

Furthermore, new guidelines (BB101 2018) have been published by the government, specifying reduced maximum CO2 levels within rooms and a raft of thermal comfort improvements. The new guidelines require structured ventilation strategies and are placing much greater demands on the design specifications of new schools and workplaces.

Ramboll and Ryder Architects were initially appointed by SFT with a remit of designing improved IAQ, thermal comfort and reduced energy costs in the new Queensferry School. They sought designs demonstrating how the school could comply with (and better) BB101 guidelines, but which could also accurately calculate future energy costs. With IAQ a key consideration in every new school in Denmark, where Ramboll’s global headquarters are located, we pulled together a specialist team that could deliver both global expertise from Denmark and local insight. The scope of our design delivery included the full MEP & sustainability design. The MEP installation has been designed to Level 2 BIM with a federated model comprising MEP, architectural, structural and furniture, fixtures and equipment models.

An energy strategy built around school usage

To maximise energy savings from passive strategies we developed and improved the accuracy of the energy prediction beyond the minimum requirements of the building regulations through in-depth analysis and understanding of daily energy usage. This process was underpinned by collaboration with the client and school users, accurately defining hours of operation and estimating energy consumption of all regulated and unregulated sources. The resulting energy prediction is comparable to benchmarks, and importantly produces more realistic energy profiles for sizing the specified Combined Heat and Power (CHP) strategy.

Parametric design 

We explored numerous building massing options made possible by the use of parametric analysis, that can rapidly determine their potential passive design performance. Natural ventilation, daylight access, heat loss and passive solar heating potential were considered, and each proposed massing option scored against these criteria, allowing the design team to select the optimal solution.

Throughout the design stages the parametric analysis expanded into detailed daylight analysis. We tested a total of 146 façade configurations for compliance with the latest annual daylight calculation methods. The final configuration includes external brise soleil and diffusing glazing, and meets all the criteria specified by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) daylight design guide while reducing daylight glare.

Individual classroom ventilation

We incorporated many aspects of the Danish model for school design, which places emphasis on reducing CO2 levels in classrooms. This informed our strategy of placing hybrid heat recovery units in each classroom. Due to heat recovery within each unit, tempered air is provided into the classroom. Each naturally ventilated classroom was designed with an individual MVHR unit to maintain averages CO2 levels at less than 1000ppm, within the BB101 guidelines. 

Air quality will be metered and monitored closely once occupied to ensure efficiency. These meters will all be linked to the Building Metering System, which will be monitored, and can be adjusted by the school occupiers.

A more healthy and sustainable future

Upon the school’s completion, scheduled for 2020, a three-year post occupancy evaluation will be undertaken. By monitoring the classroom environments when in use, overall performance and effectiveness of the measures implemented will be recorded, alongside real-life energy consumption against predictions. If real life performance matches predictions it is hoped that Queensferry High School will be the model on which other schools are based.


240 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 8NW
United Kingdom
Tel:+44 20 7631 5291
Fax:+44 845 299 1610

Mail: london@ramboll.co.uk

Company registration

Company registration

Ramboll UK Limited. Registered in England & Wales. Company registration no. 03659970. Registered office: 240 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NW

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