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Swaythling students rise to eco roof challenge

The student project team have designed a 'brown roof' – featuring native plants and providing habitats for a range of species - through the WeCan STEM Challenge organised by Bouygues UK and Southampton City Council in partnership with Solent Education Business Partnership.

The school team received an award, a certificate of participation and a £25 Amazon voucher for their entry in the Challenge. Their work has also been put forward for a CREST silver award.

The WeCan STEM Challenge enables students to work with industry experts to develop science, technology, engineering and maths skills.

Lovell community liaison officer Cath Greenham – who is a STEM ambassador – worked alongside the St George project team helping them develop a brown roof design incorporating plant pots to hold flowers and provide nests for bees. Their design also includes a system to collect rain water and plans for wood and rubble habitats for stag beetles, woodlice and spiders.

Cath provided advice to the students and organised activities to help them, including a visit from Southampton Solent University student Nicholas Illston who met with the school project team to discuss their ideas. Naomi Sadler from Sadler Energy also gave students a presentation on the BREEAM system for measuring buildings' environmental performance.

Cath also arranged for the students to visit the Lovell's Mayflower Mews development site at Laxton Close, Sholing, where the company is building a new housing development as part of a major housing regeneration programme for Southampton City Council. The visit enabled the students to see a construction site in action and to gather construction waste – such as rubble, crushed brick and wood – to use in the project.

"The students have approached the challenge with a lot of creativity and carried out an impressive amount of research to come up with a roof design which will attract a variety of species as well as being visually appealing," says Lovell's Cath Greenham. "As a company, we are always keen to encourage young people to find out more about our industry and projects like this are a fantastic way of encouraging students to engage with the issues involved in sustainable building."

The brown roof challenge was chosen by the students from a series of projects set in the STEM Challenge inspired by the major St Mary's student accommodation and mixed use development in Southampton.

The St George students joined students from other local schools to deliver a presentation about their project to an expert panel at the grand final of the Southampton Challenge.

Lovell, with housing association First Wessex, is delivering a £30 million regeneration scheme at three Southampton estates. Lovell is creating three brand-new housing developments: Montague Place at Meggeson Avenue, Bitterne Park; Mayflower Mews at Laxton Close, Sholing and Mansfield Park at Exford Avenue, Harefield.