Radiant heating and cooling: Four key considerations when specifying for the education sector
Schools and universities pose a unique set of challenges for M&E consultants looking to specify radiant heating and cooling (RHC) solutions. Energy efficiency, installation timescales and health and safety all must be weighed up alongside the need to create a productive learning environment that will stand the test of time and not require extensive maintenance and repair.
Balance the following aspects for an outcome that works for clients, local authorities, and ultimately school staff and students:
Given the need to complete work within defined holiday periods, logistic processes must be able to cope with firm deadlines, while fitting in with any other renovations taking place at the same time.
Consider multifunctional solutions that combine services from heating and cooling with lighting and fire alarms to help reduce installation times and avoid delays.
As industry standards demand ever higher levels of comfort whilst needing to reduce energy consumption, energy efficiency and carbon reduction targets has never been more important.
Responsive heating and cooling systems are one of the most effective ways of ensuring energy efficiency in a large education building – quicker to get to temperature and maintain without overheating. This also helps ensure a pleasant working temperature for students, teachers and other school staff.
Aside the obvious benefits of an efficient heating solution in every room, one of the keys to energy efficiency in a large education property is the ability to cater for different radiant needs for vastly different sized spaces and responding to changes in occupation levels – avoiding overheating or unnecessary use of power.
Some heating products can be an obvious danger to younger students, especially when located within arm’s reach. In addition to keeping students safe, systems which remain well out of the way such as ceiling panels can also reduce the need for unnecessary maintenance and damage that can products on low walls and underfloor heating can suffer.
Additional safety considerations can come into play depending on the usage of a room. For example, spaces that are occasionally used for sports activities demand bespoke specifications. This can be further complicated by the tendency for education buildings to use large spaces for multiple purposes, from assemblies and catering to basketball and gymnastics. In these circumstances walls may need to remain free of radiators and other equipment for safety reasons, so alternative solutions such as panels are a better choice.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is another crucial safety consideration, with pollution recently being recognised as one of the most urgent public health issues currently facing the UK. Distribution of heat via water, as with radiant ceiling panels, rather than air helps eliminate the transfer of pollutants such as dust, mould, fungi, bacteria and viruses which can all have damaging health effects.
Meeting a building’s performance criteria should mean going beyond basic compliance to meet best practice standards. Failing to do so can negatively impact a company’s reputation, as well as leading to significant cost implications for the client. Working with industry leading manufacturers that uphold the latest standards can make compliance significantly easier.
For more information on Zehnder Radiant Panels, contact The Versatile Team on 0469029444.