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As the energy crisis continues to have an impact all of us, many schools are starting to look at how they will be able to afford their gas and electricity bills over the coming year – and on a longer term.
With immediate changes to budgets being required in the short term, there may also be aspects of school buildings that can be reviewed, with a view to upgrading, for a longer-term solution.
Some of the potential ways in which improvement works and infrastructure upgrades that may be able to contribute to energy savings include:
The past few months has seen our education team see an increase in enquiries in relation to some of the above types of project. We have recently been involved with a number of heating system replacement schemes in Lancashire schools that opted for heating systems that use renewable heat sources (instead of gas boilers).
Along with looking at the source of heating, the installation of new, efficient central heating systems often come with much better controls. Older heating systems often have little or no ability to control the temperature in individual classrooms or areas. This can lead to a lot of energy wastage – with some classrooms having the windows open because it is too hot; and another classroom simultaneously being too cold. With better controls in place, the temperature can be controlled on a more localised basis so there is less energy usage. The new heating systems have more efficient emitters instead of old cast iron radiators.
The government is keen to promote projects in schools that promote energy efficiency, and there is funding available for eligible schools and eligible projects. The annual CIF round is one potential route.
Additionally, a specific round of funding – PSDS Phase 3b scheme – that focuses on the decarbonisation of heat, is currently open. One advantage of PSDS funding is that a bid can cover a whole package of combined works e.g. replace the heating, and upgrade the whole external fabric (roofs, windows etc.) – meaning that projects can take a more ‘wholescale’ approach, rather than being on a project by project basis.
Where a school has building projects planned, it is worth paying consideration to the potential ways in which energy efficiency measures can be incorporated. Where we are asked to project manage building, extension, improvement or upgrade works at schools, we will always look for ‘best value’ from the quotes provided. Using our knowledge of building materials and processes, our School Building Consultants are able to advise schools on the best long-term solution from the quotes that are provided by contractors.
For example, when a roof is in poor condition, we don’t just renew the roof coverings, we also incorporate thermal insulation to bring it up to current day Building Regs standards. Whilst the upfront costs might be slightly higher, the school will be more energy efficient, therefore justifying the increase cost.
For more information on applying for funding for a project at an academy school, or to discuss employing our services to plan and oversee building projects – either on a project-by-project basis or as part of ongoing advice – please get in touch.
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