How M+E Services Help Schools in Challenging Times
Educational buildings such as schools need to be continuously comfortable, safe and clean environments, with children's well-being at the forefront of all decision-making when planning M+E solutions.
Many schools are face ageing infrastructure challenges, with a significant amount of buildings coming from the post-war building boom. Coupled with that is the rapid advancement of technology, with IT infrastructure needed both for modern teaching methods and new, technologically-minded subjects.
In a 2021 Condition of School Buildings survey*, Primary and Secondary schools, representing over 90% of all school buildings, were estimated to need over £2.5 billion just to repair or replace Electrical services, including mains switch panels, lighting and IT infrastructure, across the whole estate. Not far behind were Mechanical services, including boilers, pipework and air conditioning, facing a total condition need of just over £2 billion.
The biggest issue facing schools is that while a total condition need of £5.3 billion per year is currently required to maintain school buildings and mitigate the most serious risks, the allocation from HM Treasury is about £3.1 billion annually - nearly 40% below government-assessed levels of need.
All this leaves schools in a situation where they need to maintain a safe and comfortable environment for the students, often having to be selective as to which areas of infrastructure can afford an upgrade. Therefore, a level of trust is fundamental in choosing a building services company - trust that they understand efficiency is key to a school’s building strategy.
Watsons Building Services has frequently earned this trust, planning and installing a wide range of M+E services for schools and playing a crucial role in maintaining a conducive environment for student learning. Recent projects have included the replacement of boiler systems, including heating and hot water, which are probably the most important upgrades a school can make. In all cases, highly efficient boilers, new electrical power supplies and BMS integration were employed to build out a cost-effective and energy-saving solution enabling schools to save on long-term energy budgets.
Some projects we have undertaken also show how schools can embrace renewable technologies to become more sustainable going forward. We were recently entrusted to design and install the M+E services for an Eco-building at a school in Huddersfield, using the latest in renewable and sustainable technologies such as high-efficiency lighting with smart controls, an eco water heater, energy recovery ventilation, electric LST fan heaters and photovoltaic energy generation - panels that convert the sun’s thermal energy into electricity.
Watsons Building Services has built up a lot of trust in the education sector and is always ready to discuss energy-saving, cost-efficient solutions that will minimise the impact on a school’s students, environment and budget.
*Condition of School Buildings Survey - Key Findings, May 2021 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/60af7cbbe90e071b54214c82/Condition_of_School_Buildings_Survey_CDC1_-_key_findings_report.pdf