Facilities special: Winter is coming

As the days darken and the temperature drops, we consult the experts on minimising costs and protecting against the winter weather

Schools have a responsibility to ensure their buildings’ heating and lighting are conducive to pupils’ learning – and, in particular, they must meet The Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 which stipulate classrooms must be at least 18°C. With large, often historical buildings to maintain, this can lead to a spike in fuel bills over the colder months.

Sam Illsley, from government-funded organisation Salix Finance, says that schools considering maintenance upgrades over the winter need only make modest changes to lower consumption: “Building upgrades, however necessary and overdue, can bring a financial headache. But work that actually saves money is much less of a grudge purchase. High on the priority list for many heads will be relatively modest improvements to heating and lighting that make more than humble improvements to the school’s financial situation.

“Reducing energy consumption can be one of the easiest ways schools can achieve quick savings, and upfront investments in technology to make it happen can be surprisingly painless. Heads eager to reduce the bills can take a huge leap forward with a small investment and a little imagination.

“For example, a simple switch to energy-efficient light fittings can result in up to 70 percent saving on that aspect of the fuel bill. Installing sensors to ensure lights are only turned on when required is also a quick an easy way to up your school’s green credentials and cut the waste involved in lighting empty rooms.

“Given that parts of school buildings are used increasingly for after-hours activity, heads also need to ensure this doesn’t send their heating bill through the roof. Relatively inexpensive heat zoning technology is often the answer as it makes sure heating is only supplied to those areas of the building actually in use.”

Another risk associated with the winter months is rain – and, in particular, flooding. Floods can have a serious effect on school premises, causing damp and damage to valuable contents. Floodwater can also have a serious effect on pupils’ health.

Buildings are not airtight and it is important for everyone to work together as a team to resolve problems – Louise Hosking

Louise Hosking, director of Hosking Associates Ltd, says: “When there is lots of rain, buildings which have never had problems before may start experiencing water ingress. Buildings are not airtight and it is important for everyone to work together as a team to resolve problems, which will ensure normal school activities are disrupted as little as possible.

“Water spillages on smooth surfaces can lead to slipping hazards, so ensure you have arrangements in place which include encouraging people not to shake umbrellas inside and mats placed inside doorways.

“If your building has an entrance that becomes particularly slippery in wet weather, expert advice should be sought on cleaning and consideration given to treating or altering the surface.”

Winter weather can also affect electricity, resulting in a loss of power and security. Louise advises: “Flood water can affect electrical systems within buildings; if electrical systems have been exposed to flooding, advice must be sought from a qualified electrician. Do not switch on appliances if you believe they have been affected by water.”

Are you planning work on your buildings and facilities? Send us your stories at Stephanie.broad@wildfirecomms.co.uk

Hosking Associates: www.hosking-associates.com

Salix Finance: www.salixfinance.co.uk


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