Turning up the heat

As winter is almost upon us, it highlights the importance for education buildings to have a sustainable and efficient heating system in place that can be relied on.

There are regulations and guidelines, in particular Building Bulletin 101, to ensure that pupils are not only comfortable while they are at school, but that the room temperature is conducive to study.

Regulations require that schools must have controllable heating systems capable of maintaining specified minimum and maximum temperatures that are maintained for as long as the rooms are in use.

Ideally, it means the temperature in a classroom must be at least 18°C (64.4°F) with people generally working at their best in temperatures between 16°C and 24°C. However, the temperatures can vary depending on the type of space and who is using the room, for example, if it is young children, those with SEN (Special Education Needs) or physical disabilities a higher temperature may be required.

Obviously, very high temperatures can make it difficult for teachers and pupils to work efficiently and can cause discomfort and even illness. Heat can lead to a loss of concentration and increased tiredness.

Therefore, careful attention needs to be given to the design of any new building to meet the ventilation and heating requirements, and our education buildings are designed around a ‘building envelope’ that is efficient to heat but remains cool in the summer.

In creating an ‘envelope’, attention is given to the roof, walls and floor, which contain high levels of insulation and thermal mass. In this way, the building also has a low carbon footprint/ ‘fabric first’ approach as it is efficient to heat. Equally, the high levels of insulation also shield the building during the summer, preventing overheating.

With a well-insulated framework in place, we then work closely with our building services engineers, to provide controllable heating and cooling using energy efficient air source heat pumps and heat recovery systems.

Whenever possible our education buildings are designed to make use of natural ventilation and cooling to prevent the room becoming stuffy. Trickle vents within doors and windows are standard. Opening windows (on restrictors for safety) and automatic rain sensing rooflights promote controlled ventilation. Low energy mechanical extract ventilation systems are used throughout all sanitary areas to meet regulation requirements.

An education building that is a comfortable place to be, no matter what the weather, helps to provide a great learning environment and a positive experience for pupils.