Lisneal College, L’Derry

Lisneal College was designed and built in collaboration with the Carbon Trust, integrating low carbon design principles to produce a sustainable, low energy, reduced carbon impact project. Daylight, natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting and solar energy have been used to reduce the building’s carbon footprint, save energy and bring sustainable development to the heart of the learning experience.

This £14.0m state-of-the-art college is situated on a twenty two seven acre site off the Crescent Link in Londonderry and was opened in 2009 by Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip.

The College accommodates 1,000 pupils, consists of seven separate buildings and enjoys the most modern learning and teaching environment. The administration block and three classroom blocks are positioned to create a courtyard to afford some protection on this very exposed site. The music suite, technology and sports hall are detached from the main building and are accessed by a short walk using a covered walkway.

During their visit, Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip were shown some of the novel features of the college including a fully functioning dental surgery and a biometric payment system in the school canteen.

The sports facilities at the College encourage participation and a healthy lifestyle. The internal sports provision of a gym and sports halls are complemented with a high-tech fitness suite.

Outdoor sports activities are provided on grass pitches, a synthetic pitch and tennis courts. The Astroturf pitch provides pupils and Community Groups with a state-of-the-art playing surface which can be used all year round and with the provision of floodlighting enabling evening and after school use.

This was a Design & Build project and central to our delivery of this scheme was our team’s computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling expertise. A CFD model was built to prove our natural ventilation strategy. This confirmed that only six out of over 300 rooms would be subject to summertime overheat – and, in keeping with our ‘green’ design philosophy, we introduced a groundwater cooling scheme to these areas to keep the internal environmental conditions within acceptable limits. We also designed the use of a biomass district heating scheme which was the first of its kind in an education facility in the UK.

Key Features:

  • The College was aiming to be not just low carbon (that is < 5kgC/m2), but actually totally carbon neutral
  • The principal sustainable design element of natural ventilation via high and low level opening windows
  • High levels of daylighting – we increased the floor-to-floor height by 500mm to maximise this was a principal sustainable design feature
  • Super insulated building fabric
  • Biomass heating plant fuelled by wood pellets
  • Solar water heating for toilets and shower facilities in the Sports Hall complex
  • Use of borehole water for cooling
  • 1,100 m2 of photo voltaic cells fully integrated into a KALZIP standing seam metal roof


Key Project Information
Architect Isherwood & Ellis
Value £14.0m
Duration 119 weeks
Extra Information
Location Western Education & Library Board
Sectors Education