Cavehill Primary School

Education Authority

Client: Education Authority

Completion: Aug 2004

Value: £2.5m

Project Summary

Conceived as a “pilot” energy efficient school this innovative and ground-breaking project included several “green” design initiatives which informed future DENI schools. This new 12 class-base scheme was designed and delivered on the site of the original school while it remained fully operational throughout construction. McAdams partnered with Dr Steve Low of the Ulster University School of the Built Environment to explore and integrate passive solar design strategies to reduce energy consumption. In addition, the project integrated several renewable energy initiatives such as PV Solar Cells / Solar Thermal / Wind Turbines etc. and as such was designated:

  • BP Solar demonstration project ---largest array of Solar Cells on a Primary School at the time
  • Carbon Trust M4i (Movement for Innovation) demonstration project - the only primary school in Northern Ireland designated as such at the time
  • Separate DTI funding for PV cells and wind turbines

The innovative nature of this project in no way detracted from the educational performance of the building. A post project review by the BRE considered both the ventilation and sensitive use of natural daylight to be of a very high standard. This imbued the project with a very pleasant educational environment.


This project provided exceptional feedback on how key “green” initiatives performed. It also allowed McAdams to access the cost effectiveness of certain strategies thus informing our future primary school projects of how best to allocate their budget regarding sustainability. This included:

  • Ensuring fundamental design decisions regarding envelop and orientation are always considered at the beginning and evidence provided that good choices have prevailed
  • Ensuring that only appropriate renewable technologies and strategies have been deployed
  • Ensuring that “green” design ethos also provides a platform for teaching pupils about the conservation and protecting the environment
  • Ensuring that sustainable design can be evidenced as a primary driver in all new schools

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