St Mary’s Catholic Voluntary Academy

St Mary’s Catholic Voluntary Academy in Derby, Derbyshire is a newly constructed school, with cedar cladding to all external elevations. 

The brand-new construction of the academy has now opened its doors to pupils and teachers just three years after their original school burned down due to an arson attack. The site was selected by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2021 as a pilot scheme, following the devastating attack that destroyed the previous school. Given the history of the former school, this innovative PSI-FAST panellised solution by Innovare Offsite was specified by architect Hawkins Brown to have fire retardant timber cladding. 

The timber cladding helps the academy in its approach to being net-zero carbon in operation, low embodied carbon and an MMC exemplar. The roofs of the five blocks are also currently being prepared for either PV or wildflower green roof installations that will contribute to the school’s energy loads; albeit the core of the energy strategy is to reduce the need for heat and light in the first instance.

This is the UK’s first biophilic primary school, designed to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and ‘space and place’ conditions.

FireWright were contacted by timber supplier, Duffield Timber to provide a fire-retardant timber treatment for all of the external cedar cladding panels for the project. Duffield Timber, a Ripon based timber supplier, needed around 53 cubic metres of timber for the whole project to be treated. 

Working to strict time frames, FireWright were able to impregnate the timber with our non-toxic and natural FireWright treatment and supply the panels back to Duffield Timber packaged and ready for distribution in a steady flow to the construction site in Derby. 

The project is a stunning example of how timber can be used in construction and how the DfE are investing in timber products to help reduce carbon. Once the cladding had been treated, it met BS EN 13501-1 Fire classification of construction products and building elements. 

“We’re really proud in the part we’ve played in this DfE project. The principal contractor Tilbury Douglas have done a fantastic job executing this project. Specifying our non-toxic, 100% natural fire-retardant treatment on the cedar cladding is testament to their environmentally conscious approach” Zac Yeats, FireWright’s Sales Executive said. “Having worked with Duffield Timber on other projects, it’s always great to have repeat business from customers that trust us with treating their product”. 

The stunning cedar cladding is now rated b, s1-d0 on the Euroclass system. The ‘b’ rating refers to the cladding having ‘No Flashover’, s1 referring to the highest rating for smoke development as ‘Very limited emission of smoke / combustion gases (120)’ and in terms of burning droplets, the rating is d0 with ‘No burning droplets or particles emitted’. 

The cedar cladding was issued to Duffield Timber with a Declaration of Performance certificate, a Constancy Of Performance and a Fire Classification Report. FireWright’s clear liquid treatment is able to maintain the cedar’s natural aesthetic and removes any need for re-application for the duration of the timber’s life.

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