Scotland’s First Accredited Passivhaus School Officially Opened

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Jenny Gilruth MSP and John Swinney MSP officially opened Riverside Primary School in Perth today (Mar 26). 

Open to staff and pupils since June 2023, the new-build school has become the first accredited Passivhaus school in Scotland, meaning it meets exacting heat, air quality and carbon emission standards, using much less energy than a standard building of its size. Riverside is also part of the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Plan, Phase 2.  

The school has capacity for up to 500 pupils as well as intensive support provision and a nursery with space for up to 82 children. Riverside pupils benefit from a dining/gym hall, learning resource area with library and a general-purpose area for activities such as performing arts and cookery. Outside, an outdoor activity trail, enclosed sports area and a sheltered classroom are also part of the school’s facilities, as well as a wooded outdoor learning area, all of which help to enhance the school curriculum offer and provide outdoor learning opportunities easily and more frequently.  

Alongside Passivhaus accreditation, Riverside Primary School has also been shortlisted for a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) UK Regional Award in the Public Sector category.  The RICS Awards showcase the most inspirational initiatives and developments in land, real estate, construction and infrastructure, recognising outstanding achievement, teamwork and companies.  

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth said: “Riverside Primary is an impressive new school, which has been supported by the Scottish Government’s £2billion Learning Estate and Investment Programme. I am delighted this funding from Government means that more local children will be able to benefit from state-of-the art learning facilities.  

“The fact the school has already been short-listed for a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors award a testament to the hard work of all involved in the design of the project. New school buildings make a difference – they can improve learning, relationships and fundamentally the outcomes for Scotland’s young people.“ 

John Swinney MSP for Perthshire North said: “I am delighted to officially open Riverside Primary School and to witness first-hand the positive impact of investment in the education of my constituents in the Muirton and North Muirton areas. It has been wonderful to see the new Riverside Primary emerge from two previous schools into a unified and cohesive community. It is fantastic that this vital community in my constituency is benefitting so much from this significant investment. 

 “This new facility is a clear reflection that the Scottish Government and Perth and Kinross Council are both focused in their investment on educational attainment and environmental responsibility. By embracing the Passivhaus standards, we are collectively demonstrating that it is possible to create spaces that are better for our planet and conducive to high-quality learning.  

 “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all involved in the planning and delivery of this world-class new school, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact these surroundings will have on pupils in the years to come.” 

Councillor John Rebbeck, Convener of Perth and Kinross Council’s Learning and Families Committee, said: “The development of Riverside Primary School has been a real team effort from everyone involved to create a fantastic environment for learning and teaching. It’s also a great feather in our collective cap to mark its official opening today with Passivhaus accreditation in place and a UK award shortlisting from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  

“The delivery of this fantastic new school reflects how we are looking to make our estate as efficient as possible heading into the future and the integration of approaches such as Passivhaus put energy-saving and environmental measures at the heart of the design and construction processes. I look forward to this design standard also being used for the new Perth High School and Blairgowrie Recreation Centre.” 

Sheena Devlin, Strategic Lead for Education and Learning, said: “Staff and pupils from Balhousie and North Muirton have settled very well into the new school and while merging schools can be challenging, the school and local community have responded tremendously to the process, working together with us to establish the new identity of Riverside Primary School and create a sense of ownership.  
“I’m looking forward to continuing that partnership and to seeing the school thrive and achieve the very best for all the pupils who attend.” 

Gary Bushnell, Chief Executive, hub East Central Scotland, said: “We are proud to have delivered another high-quality school for Perth and Kinross Council that will play an important role in the community for many years to come. Everyone on the team worked incredibly hard to ensure that the building met the exacting Passivhaus quality assurance standards.” 

Sam Boyle, Architype’s project architect on Riverside Primary School commented: 

“Achieving independent Passivhaus certification is a real technical challenge and is 

testament to the commitment and collaboration of the whole design and construction team. Riverside Primary School is the result of genuine collaboration between an 

ambitious client and a tenacious design team, resulting in a pioneering state-of-the-art learning environment filled with natural light, warm, natural materials, and fresh air.  

“For us, the real measure of any school building and interior is the positive influence it has on those using it and how it can positively impact the ability of students to learn, play and grow. Riverside provides a healthy, inclusive, and accessible learning environment ensuring that it offers a positive and supportive environment for all learners. We are delighted Riverside Primary School is already much loved by the Head Teacher and all the pupils who are enormously proud of their new Passivhaus school.”