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  • 06.11.2015
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At the £4.9 million Oak Meadow Primary School in Wolverhampton, a super-insulated lightweight timber frame was integral to the project achieving Passivhaus certification. For the inner external walls and first floor ceiling, SMARTPLY OSB3 panels provided the perfect combination of strength and airtightness – helping the school to become one of the UK's first accredited Passivhaus schemes.

Designed by Architype Architects using a ‘fabric first’ approach, Oak Meadow Primary School formed part of Wolverhampton City Council’s £16.6 million Primary Capital Programme to improve the region’s primary school facilities. Featuring a 2,300m2 two-storey timber frame, every component’s performance was carefully considered from the design stage to meet the technical demands of Passivhaus. To achieve this, main contractor Thomas Vale Construction specified a timber frame solution from Cygnum Timber Frame. Comprising a 340mm external wall insulation zone, it featured a main airtight layer of 18mm SMARTPLY OSB3 to the inner face of the external walls and first floor ceiling. Made of timber strands cross-oriented in layers with a resin binder, SMARTPLY OSB3 provides no internal gaps or voids for increased strength and exceptional thermal performance. “SMARTPLY OSB3 provided the ideal solution in the creation of our ultra-low carbon timber frame,” said John Desmond, Managing Director at Cygnum Timber Frame. “It is a material that we are very happy to use and ideal for projects where sustainability and low energy in use is important as it helps us to achieve a very consistent and high thermal performance. It is also very easy to work with, enabling all detailing, jointing and edging completed to the highest standard on site.” Manufactured using zero added formaldehyde technology, SMARTPLY OSB3 met the client and contractor’s strict requirements for proven performance and extremely low environmental impact. In addition, the system offers a fully certified alternative to softwood plywood and boasts FSC Chain of Custody certification – a key requirement for this exemplar of low carbon construction. With its innovative use of natural materials and advanced approaches to low carbon construction – Oak Meadow Primary School sets a new standard for sustainable education developments. As one of the first three primary schools in the UK to receive Passivhaus certification, and winner of Best Non-Domestic project at the UK Passivhaus Awards, the project demonstrates how SMARTPLY OSB3 can play a vital role in the design and construction of super-insulated timber frames at low energy and passive developments.