Mulberry School for Girls has been awarded the Rolls-Royce Science Prize 2011 for their Hydroponic grow rooms, which have been installed with the help of Miller Asset 24.
Miller Construction completed the school in 2004 and has been responsible for the school’s on-going facilities maintenance through its FM arm, Miller Asset 24.
In partnership with Deborah Colvin, Director of STEM Learning, Miller Asset 24 embraced the challenge of converting Mulberry School for Girls’ greenhouses into a suite of Hydroponic grow rooms, aimed at encouraging substantial plant growth in a small area. Previously, the greenhouses were extremely hot in summer and very cold in the winter, therefore limiting plant growth.
The prestigious Rolls-Royce Science Prize is an annual awards programme which helps teachers to implement science teaching ideas in their schools and colleges.
Stephen Beadle, Director, Miller Asset 24, said; “We are delighted that Mulberry School for Girls has picked up the Rolls-Royce Science Prize. It has been a pleasure to work with both the students and staff at Mulberry in what has been a hugely successful project.
“This project required the team to engage in significant ventilation, lighting and carbon dioxide control measures and due to close collaboration with Deborah, an agricultural scientist and plant breeder, we were able to make this project a resounding success.”
In a bid to combat the problem of limited plant growth, the Miller Asset 24 team installed large-capacity extraction fans, high-pressure sodium lamps, two hydroponics systems and a carbon dioxide controller. The aims of the project are to highlight the visible link between energy generation and consumption and raise awareness of some technological approaches required for sustainable food production and associated energy use.
The hydroponic system has many benefits: the system is able to recycle water, resulting in much lower water usage than conventional growing; plant roots are regularly oxygenated, maximising growth; minimal nutrient waste is released into the environment due to the nutrient control feature; pests and disease are managed more effectively due to the stringently controlled environment, all of which results in substantial plant growth.
The judges were very impressed with the project, commenting, “This is a very ambitious and innovative project that could produce results that would be of value in many other places. The project is supported by an excellent team.”
Vanessa Ogden, Headteacher, Mulberry School for Girls, said: “This award is testament to the benefits of the close working relationship between ourselves and the Miller Asset 24 team. It has been fantastic to see the pupils take ownership of this project, under the excellent guidance from Miller Asset 24 and the staff at Mulberry.
“As the project continues to develop, we are working towards establishing a local business through close collaboration between the Science, Food Technology, Hospitality & Catering and Business Studies subjects. Groups of students will take responsibility for researching, growing and harvesting foods before selling them to the Mulberry Diner (a lunchtime venue where students cook for staff.)”
Stephen Beadle added: “Mulberry School for Girls has an ambitious plan to develop this project further through a local business initiative. It has been an absolute privilege to be a part of and the Miller Asset 24 team has thoroughly enjoyed working with the students, staff and Deborah to make this an award winning project.”