Tailor made solutions
Initiatives like Building Schools for the Future (BSF) have provided a glimmer of hope to the construction industry in recent years, particularly with all the doom and gloom of the recession swirling overhead. With the worst of this hopefully behind us and a new Government now in charge, it looks like the Conservative’s will be as committed to investing in the educational sector as their predecessors.
With this in mind and a growing number of new build and refurbishment school projects currently in progress or in the pipeline, I want to outline the growing importance of bespoke solutions for the education sector and how I believe electrical wholesalers can take advantage of the massive opportunities in this market.
Getting it right
There’s no doubt that in the past school buildings have been considered by many in our industry in relatively simple terms. However, the introduction of BSF, along with legislation like the Building Regulations, means this is no longer the case.
Today, with buildings becoming more airtight, providing sufficient ventilation is a serious issue. An effective solution will not only ensure a clean, fresh and healthy indoor environment for pupils and staff, but it will also help reduce carbon emissions and transmitted noise, thus helping to create a better learning environment.
Other import factors that must be taken into account are the increasing use of IT equipment, the amount of glazing used and the impact this has on natural light, and the use of lighting in the building itself. Specifiers must also consider what a space is going to be used for, how often it is going to be used and how many people are going to use that space at any one time.
So what does this mean for wholesalers?
For your specifier, contract or installer customers, there are a number of ventilation solutions on the market which they can chose from for school building projects. This includes central plant, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR), natural ventilation and mixed-mode ventilation.
Whilst many specifiers will have a clear idea of what they want, this doesn’t mean wholesalers cannot provide advice and guidance to add value to the service they provide their customers and help them make a more informed choice. Ultimately, this will help build a reputation of expertise and advice.
A good example of this is the common myth amongst many specifiers and contractors that central plant and heat recovery units are the most suitable for schools. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case. Every new or renewed school is different, therefore it is essential as an industry that we do not get into a ‘one solution fits all scenerio’.
Make it specific
The answer has to be installing application specific systems that take advantage of the design and orientation of the school, the changing temperature throughout the day and night, and the regional seasonal profiles to optimise comfort whilst minimising energy loss. The system design should have the ability to be stand-alone or integrated with renewable heat pump heating and cooling, solar thermal panels and wind energy systems to suit an application.
Being up to speed on all the latest product and solution developments from manufacturers and being armed with this information for your customers will go a long way in making you an invaluable resource, which may even help alter their purchasing decision for the better. By moving away from a product sell to a solutions approach, it also gives wholesalers the chance to up-sell and increase revenue opportunities.
In order to do this, it is essential wholesalers work in partnership with their supply chain to ensure they are one step ahead and have the right solutions for their customers. At Xpelair, we work in partnership with all our wholesale customers, offering them a range of training courses to ensure they have access to all the latest information and advice.
To complement this, we have also recently introduced a new mixed-mode ventilation solution for schools that meets and exceeds the requirements of BSF, and allows for completely bespoke solutions to be designed for individual spaces.
Operating via a combination of CO2, temperature and time controls, Xpelair’s Classmate is a split level solution that minimises energy input and reduces carbon emissions by use of free cooling passive ventilation, with summer cooling achieved by means of low energy DC fans. Other features include class leading acoustic performance, temperature differential sensing and modulating controls, allowing the end-user to control the airflow passively or make up for mechanical ventilation.
To get the advantages of this type of system across to your customers and ultimately the end-user, a typical school with twenty classrooms could realise a saving of 40,000kW per annum over mechanical cooling. To compliment this, the installed cost is approximately 15% lower. Not only then does this solution tick the performance and efficiency boxes, but it is also a cost effective system that will provide the ideal indoor environment within a school building for years to come.