18 October 2016
The following comment was received in response to BRegs Blog post School Building Programme : Are our children safe? from architect Michael Tweed B.A. B.Arch RIBA MRIAI:
It seems that the Department and Minister are trumpeting that the schools will have an A3 energy rating while emulating the ostrich when it comes to child safety due to fire or structural risks!
Taking account of all the holidays in a year schools are more or less empty for approximately one third of the year. When used they are open 5 days a week from perhaps 8am until 5pm. That means a school is occupied for approximately 1575 hours per year where the total number of hours in a year is 8760. In other words a school is occupied for only 18% of a year.
The mean daytime temperature in Ireland in winter is approximately 8 degC. The school will be heated to around 20 degC which is only around 12 degC of heating required. Each child will emit around 100W of heat so a classroom of 30 will be emitting around 3Kw of heat.
In addition occupation of the school is largely during the day, therefore PV solar panels would be a sensible addition to provide free solar electricity.
Has anyone done a cost analysis on the payback from building a school with an A3 rating as opposed to say a B3 or B2 rating?
The benefits from improved insulation follow the inverse rule of diminishing returns! In other words each step up the rating ladder takes more resources the further you progress! I doubt a school could ever achieve pay-back!
Here’s my list of priorities for the design of a school building – assuming the space planning is correct:
- 100% fire safe – top of a list by a long long margin!
- 100% structurally safe – joint top you’d have to say!
- a value engineered design where construction process costs are included in the design detailing – since schools are paid from the public purse let’s ensure we’re getting absolute value for money!
- adequate ventilation to ensure classroom are properly ventilated to exchange the stale air with fresh air – preferably a heat recovery system
- a reasonable cost effective (looked at in pay-back terms of added build cost to achieve a particular rating set against a pay back of say 10 years on fuel costs) rate of building insulation, probably with no need to get much more than a good “B” BER rating.
Then you’ll get safe, comfortable and cost effective school buildings.
Since when did a BER rating become more important than a safe school building?
Other posts of interest: