The school population is booming as Department for Education figures reveal, with a rise in pupil numbers of 8.6% in primary schools and 12% in secondaries by 2020. To address this, the Government has pledged to deliver 600,000 new places by 2021.
But creating these places could require building more than 2,000 new schools in the next three years, as construction firm Scape Group outlined in its latest ‘School Places Challenge’ report.
And central to providing a comfortable, productive learning environment within these buildings is an energy-efficient, reliable heating service.
60% of energy use
Heating is a critical service within a building. But it’s also a large user of energy – accounting for as much as 60% of the total energy used by secondary schools, according to the Carbon Trust. For the many schools relying on commercial boilers for their heating, replacing any inefficient models with high-efficiency condensing boilers is an acknowledged quick win to significant fuel savings.
Schools often schedule heating refurbishments to be carried out in the six-week summer holiday period when the building is empty. So, on both new build and refurbishment projects there is the same need to achieve reliable, energy-efficient heating for schools within restricted timeframes and budgets.
How best to achieve this requirement? One answer is prefabrication.
Manufacturing components or modular solutions off site under factory conditions is an increasingly common practice in school building construction. The benefits are numerous, from cost and time savings to improved quality control and reduced waste.
When it comes to commercial heating plant, prefabricated equipment might be less widely used, but it offers all these advantages and more.
A case in point is the rig unit which illustrates perfectly the benefits delivered by prefabricated equipment – in this case facilitating installation of multiple condensing boilers.
Rapid, quality solution
With outstanding efficiencies of around 98% gross, modern condensing boilers deliver the high-performance heating required by schools. And to speed up installation, they can be pre-assembled on a prefabricated rig system, ready to be wheeled into the plant room for easy connection.
Installing multiple boilers on a rig system not only provides improved ease of installation, it also increases the reliability and security of the heating provision. How? Well, even if one boiler should fail, there is no disruption to the service due to the inbuilt redundancy in the system. Servicing is also easier, while the lifespan of the individual boilers is prolonged as they share the load – all of which helps protect the school coffers.
Then there’s the improved efficiency as the arrangement improves the turndown ratio, allowing more accurate matching of the load and increasing the seasonal efficiency of the system. The result? Lower operating bills, reduced energy waste and more sustainable operation.
Benefits of customisation
But a standard rig unit might not suit every school – there may be space restrictions within the plant room or specific requirements to meet. Here, the solution might be to use one of the latest advances in prefabricated heating technology – the bespoke rig system.
The ability to customise the rig means it can be designed to meet the exact requirements of the project and the site. This might mean changing the position of the low loss headers, for example, to overcome plant room limitations.
As the rig is designed bespoke, it reduces installation time still further, making it the perfect solution when working to tight schedules. This is particularly beneficial where there is a requirement for local authorities or trusts to complete a series of school refurbishment projects within a limited timeframe.
Meet precise specification
But this is just the starting point as the bespoke rig can accommodate all customer requirements – even down to integrating specific controls – to meet precise specification. Fully documented and factory tested, this prefabricated solution also offers improved quality control.
Prefabricated equipment like bespoke rig systems offer a rapid, high-quality solution to high-performance heating – with clear benefits for both new school development projects and school refurbishment projects.
Highly-efficient, reliable heating, time and cost savings, reduced hassle – the prefabricated rig system puts ticks in all boxes. Then factor in the speed and ease of installation and the improved quality control. Time to rethink prefabrication?