Case Study

Part 3/3: Scoping a successful retrofitting project

In the final part of our retrofitting mini series, Max Halliwell, communications manager, residential heating, Mitsubishi Electric & vice chairman of the UK’s Heat Pumps Association highlighted some practical considerations when retrofitting in schools.

There are a number of additional steps which installers should take when scoping a successful retrofitting project within public buildings like schools. These include:

  • Identifying all the energy using systems consuming energy in the building, for example: heating, lighting, hot water and cooling
  • Finding all the areas of energy wastage, such as poor insulation, potential draughty areas which are common within schools, and poor controls
  • Identifying where energy efficiency investments can be made to reduce the overall energy demand of the building. Installers would also be advised to consider the impact on all systems together, such as how air tightness will impact on ventilation systems and whether control systems can be upgraded to allow heating and cooling systems to be better integrated
  • Selecting the most appropriate low carbon heating measure alongside the consideration of factors including whether there is a local district heating network, whether the heat distribution systems require upgrading, if the electrical system can be upgraded to support a heat pump and how the hot water demand be met
  • Bundling the selected low carbon heating and the energy efficiency together with associated enabling works and additional supporting measures such as the creating temporary access routes for construction, the need for electrical system upgrades and monitoring and metering systems and establishing the best possible site
  • Assessing whether the marginal costs and non-traded carbon savings of the bundle of measures against any thresholds.

The possible pitfalls and how to overcome them
Once the entire assessment has been made and all funding schemes considered, installers then need to ensure their proposal will meet the energy requirements of the school in question. It’s critical to understand the trends in peak and low energy usage, which are influenced by the time of day, the seasons, school calendar and therefore subsequent school holidays, and the different energy requirements of the school’s facilities.

For example, the energy requirement of a school will vary from room to room and building to building. The power needed to keep the swimming pool heated is vastly greater than that of the gym. Likewise, school corridors and entrances will have different requirements than those of a boarding house which requires 24-hour heat and light versus classrooms which may only have a demand for part of the day. Installers therefore need to work closely with the school to assess their energy needs and map out the best possible solutions when conducting a retrofit project.

Once this assessment has been undertaken and agreement reached, installers need to find the best possible time to undertake and complete the project with minimal disruption and without causing safety hazards to students and faculty. The downtime of heating systems is often unavoidable, but installers can work with schools to schedule work during the school holidays and where possible conduct weekend work. It is also advisable to undertake work during the warmer months to ensure no additional heating costs are required.

Read the case study on St Andrews CofE Primary School’s retrofit here, and discover the renewable solutions used to achieve a low cost and renewable heating system which could maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the school.