Passivhaus Affiliate

Riverside Primary - a Passivhaus first for Scotland

The first Passivhaus primary school in Scotland has just been completed in Perth, and is in the vanguard of up to 35 other Passivhaus schools in the pipeline in Scotland. After much anticipation and excitement, Riverside Primary opened its doors to its pupils on 13 June 2023. 

Riverside Primary School. Image credit: Perth & Kinross Council

Built using steel frame construction, the two storey newbuild school replaces both the North Muirton and Balhousie primary schools and has a capacity for 500 pupils and incorporates a nursery and additional support needs (ASN) provision. Riverside Primary has been delivered by hub East Central Scotland for Perth & Kinross Council and and is aiming for the Passivhaus certification and to meet the Scottish Futures Trust LEIP funding metric of 67 kWh/m2/a total energy use for core facilities/hours.  The school has engaged the pupils early on, using the construction process as a learning opportunity, which has raised engagement and excitement for the children, during the school's construction. Regular links have been established between the construction team and pupils, enhancing the learning experience. 

We want to ensure that our buildings, from offices to schools, are energy efficient, cost-effective to run and maintain, and contribute to an improved environment. Using the Passivhaus Standard for the new primary school in North Perth enables us to address all three areas at once through carbon reduction being built into the design and construction process.

Barbara Renton, Interim Chief Executive, Perth & Kinross Council


Key stats

  • Construction: Steel frame, with SFS infill

  • Budget: £19.9 million 

  • TFA:  3642  m2 

  • Build start date: 2021

  • Completed: 2023

  • Certified: Aiming for Passivhaus

Riverside Primary School. Image credit: Perth & Kinross Council


Perth & Kinross Council have committed to building forward better by adopting Passivhaus standards for this new school.  As the delivery partner of choice, we will be working closely with the local community whilst creating a facility that they can be proud of, and that will herald a change in the sustainable delivery and lifecycle of educational projects in Scotland.

Kevin Dickson, Regional Managing Director, Robertson Construction Tayside


Riverside Primary School. Image credit: Architype

The building orientation was optimised, with classrooms orientated on a north and south axis to maximise natural daylight.   while controlling solar gains. The shading strategy involves a roof overhang to south elevation, as well as localised canopies to the ground floor south elevation. The ventilation is provided by centralised MVHR (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery) systems and heating is provided by ASHPs (air source heat pumps) with direct electric hot water.


We have been delighted to be involved in designing Scotland's first Passivhaus primary school. Full credit should go to Perth & Kinross Council and Robertson for committing with us to building forward better. This is real evidence of clients and contractors going beyond minimum building requirements to provide quality assured comfort and performance over the building's life, providing a beautiful and exciting new school for the community, as well as being a catalyst for educational change across Scotland.

Ann-Marie Fallon, Associate Director & Passivhaus Designer, Architype


The school was constructed using a steel frame system, with SFS (steel framing system) infill, The steel frame core structure was insulated with continuous high-performance insulation and fully covered in the Proctor Wraptite airtightness membrane, made by A. Proctor Group Ltd locally in Blairgowrie. 

An exemplar highlighted in the Scottish-based Construction Quality Improvement Collaborative (CQIC) launch, the Riverside project team at developed  collaborative Passivhaus design optimisation and construction monitoring procedures to achieve high quality across the whole site. Contactors Robertson Group undertook extensive outreach with the soon-to-be pupils at the school, offering regular site visits. 

Overall U-values 

Floor: 0.117 W/m2K average                            

Concrete slab


Proctor Wraptite membrane at Riverside Primary School

Wall: 0.129 W/m2average

SFS + sheathing board with masonry or rainscreen cladding.


Roof: 0.124 W/m2average

Bitumen roof system (warm roof) or standing seam roof


Building performance 

Designed energy performance

Airtightness n50 (≤ 0.6ACH @ 50 Pa) 


0.53 @ 50 Pa


Space Heating Demand (≤ 15 kWh/m².a)


12.5 kWh/m².a  


Heating Load (≤ 10 W/m²)


8.2 W/m²


Primary Energy Renewable (PER) Demand (≤ 60 kWh/m².a*)    


68.6 kWh/m².a


Primary Energy Renewable Generation


13.3 kWh/m².a


*+/-15 kWh/m².a allowance if offset by energy generation. See Passivhaus criteria


Lessons learned 

Various measures were established on site to ensure high build quality: 

  • The project had a Passivhaus champion on site who made sure that the building was being built to the high quality that Passivhaus requires,  paying special attention to details, such as how the windows are installed. 
  • A test window was built and was used as an example for the installation of all the other windows to get really high-quality airtightness results.
  • Toolbox talks were organised with the design and construction team to look at specific parts of the building and talking through the detailed plans.



Key team 

Riverside Primary School. Image credit: Architype. Photogragher: David Barbour


Join us at the UK Passivhaus Conference 2023

UK Passivhaus Conference 2023 | 16-17 October | in-person in Edinburgh and onlineRiverside Primary may be the first Scottish Passivhaus school to be completed but it is by no means the last, with an estimated 35 more schools in Scotland currently on site or in the pipeline,

Discover further school case studies adopting Passivhaus in our educational buildings campaign. We will be we showcasing pioneering Scottish schools on day one of the 2023 UK Passivhaus Conference in Edinburgh. Be sure to register early for the site visits!

Further information 

Riverside Primary School, Perth  

Perth & Kinross Climate Action: A day in the life of an architect at Riverside school - 11 August 2022

Passivhaus for Educational Buildings

Passivhaus explained by kids - Youtube video created by Architype with pupils from Wilkinson Primary School. 

Passivhaus Benefits Guide & costs research 

Previous PHT story: Scotland mandates Passivhaus equivalent legislation - 11 January 2023

Previous PHT story: Super-sized Scottish campus targets Passivhaus - 22 November 2022

Previous PHT story: Scottish Schools lead largescale Passivhaus – 8 April 2022

Previous PHT Story: Local Passivhaus policies - 6 May 2022


20th June 2023

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