Banyards, building a brighter future

Today’s education facilities have a focus on flexible working spaces to deliver modern methods of teaching and learning. Yet university chancellors, bursars, head teachers, and governors cannot be education leaders as well as experts in the design of their buildings, let alone understand the fiscal or funding challenges involved in construction. 

At Banyards, we have award winning experience in delivering mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) design and commissioning consultancy which is compliant with the requirements of the Department for Education (DfE) design specifications and energy targets.

The Challenges Facing the Education Sector

  • All pupils should learn in buildings that are fit for purpose. Nationally we are faced with a shortage of schools and according to the National Audit Office, over 700,000 pupils are currently at risk of injury, learning in schools that require major rebuilding or refurbishment.
  • Education establishments are required to address increasing fuel costs and be prepared for future energy requirements whilst maintaining a safe place for the students and the teachers.
  • A typical education estate, whether it is a school or university, often includes a diverse range of buildings built at various times.


Education – A Sector We Understand

Banyards has over 36 years of experience supporting the entire range of education projects across the UK throughout all the various stages including design, construction, commissioning, and handover.

  • Our national portfolio of education projects covers primary, secondary, and further education buildings as well as specialised learning facilities.
  • Our expert advice provides the project team with MEP design guidance focusing on the importance of getting the design around thermal elements, building orientation, and the ability to achieve adequate airflow and natural ventilation compliant with the client / DfE requirements.
  • Our comprehensive approach to MEP design seeks to help and advise the building users, educational professionals, and the maintenance team to ensure the operation of the building as far as possible delivers an optimum and efficient environment for learning.


David Cocksedge Director explains:

“Higher education clients tend to have technically challenging projects and schools commonly need to address energy consumption, hot water and heating systems, flexible space and both often have out-of-date buildings and not fit for purpose. We know and understand the challenges typically facing the education sector and our clients.

In our experience, typical issues involve any or all of the following:

    1. Greener, cleaner campuses – Sustainability and a commitment to becoming carbon neutral (net zero) is possibly the biggest challenge facing our clients. To achieve a net carbon-zero building, we know early engagement with the architect and wider design team to develop optimum environmental solutions alongside passive energy reduction strategies is key.
    2. Improving teaching facilities – This is achieved by embracing innovative technology, flexible and mixed-use facilities. Spaces need to be adaptable so learning can be dynamic, engaging, and interactive, depending on the size of the group.
    3. Increasing the use of smart technologies – Across the associated campus, including the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors and devices and a smart ecosystem are critical when improving comfort, enhancing efficiency, and streamlining maintenance. Systems require upgrading and ongoing investment to deliver the increasing use of virtual teaching and the need to facilitate and interact whilst capturing important usage data.
    4. An entire range of buildings, built at various times with different issues – A standard university campus or large school usually includes multiple buildings, some of which may be listed and built over many years. Every campus has issues; in general, up to 38% are believed to be past their estimated initial design life but this could be extended with adequate maintenance.”


The Banyards approach to Commissioning in the Education Sector

Explained by Neil Burdess, Associate Head of Commissioning: 

“Our systematic approach to testing and commissioning minimises potential issues, optimising the overall performance of mechanical and electrical systems. This creates a comfortable and conducive environment for both the teachers and students whilst meeting the project’s energy targets.

Our often-considered innovative approach to projects helps elevate the commissioning management (CxM) process and this is broken down into specific commissioning stages from design, through to post-occupancy. When the functionality of systems directly impacts the learning environment, our expertise is invaluable. 

One of the significant advantages lies in our alignment with the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Commissioning Code M 2022. Banyards played an active role on the expert steering group that developed the CIBSE Code M. This update provides an overview of the management arrangements required to ensure building services systems are commissioned to meet the objectives of Part L, whilst using newer technologies to assist delivering the projects during the commissioning stages. By adhering to this code, we ensure our education projects have a systematic and comprehensive commissioning process in place, promoting vital optimal performance and energy efficiency. 

We also manage our projects in line with the Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) Commissioning Job Book BG 11/2010 which, alongside CIBSE Code M, enhances the commissioning management process further. This alignment means there is a standardised and accurate approach to commissioning, ensuring all aspects of the building services are covered and validated, according to industry best practice.”


The Banyards approach to Design in the Education Sector

Explained by Paul Cairns, Associate:

“Our collective Banyards experience in the design of schools and other education facilities is extensive. From our in-depth understanding of the DfE Output Specification, we know the net zero approach needs consideration right from design conception stage. 

We understand how a comfortable, cleaner, and greener environment supports a better overall platform for learning.

How can is this achieved? Close collaboration between our team of MEP consultants, the architect, and the interior space planning team is key to developing teaching spaces that meet the users’ requirements from project conception. It means projects will benefit from maximum natural ventilation opportunities ensuring the requirements of BB101 are maintained with the minimum amount of energy generation. 

The relationship between natural ventilation aperture sizes, maximising natural daylight, and teaching space acoustics is a delicate balance. It should be considered at the concept stage to develop the external facade construction whilst maintaining optimum performance of the teaching spaces.

Whilst leading-edge fabric and passive energy saving measures remain at the forefront of the net zero approach, the employment of the current, sustainable, and ultra-low energy efficient technologies within our designs assists with achieving the net zero goal. For example, our experience integrating air source heat pumps, high efficiency photovoltaic technology, and high efficiency lighting within our designs equips us to provide low energy designs, delivering the DfE requirements.

Alongside new build projects, Banyards has considerable experience with the challenges faced when decarbonising existing school building stock as part of the refurbishment and the net zero journey. Having collaborated with numerous large contractors to achieve this goal, we understand the full holistic design consideration needed to complete this task. It is not just a simple efficiency-led plant replacement strategy. Full cognisance needs to be given to the existing building air tightness, the thermal efficiency of the building envelope, its actual operational usage, and the condition of existing distribution systems.

However, all too often we are engaged for a technical advisory role on projects where these elements have not been fully considered, resulting in the need for us to undertake or manage remedial design.”


The Banyards approach to Mechanical Building Services

Explained by John Hurworth, Associate:

“The education sector continues to develop and refine the use of off-site construction techniques and modern methods of construction for new build and extension projects, in pursuit of shorter construction programmes at lower cost. Our design teams embrace this approach by working closely with not just the structural engineer but also the superstructure designers. We utilise 3D modelling to refine the building design to allow for factory manufacturing that de-risks the actual site build and minimises work on-site, allowing challenging construction programmes to be met. We also apply our experience in simulating building performance to advise super structure designers where they can refine construction details to improve user comfort and compliance.

We understand and recognise education building developments and projects often require delivery and completion by the start of a new academic year, irrespective of location. Off-site construction can help meet that need by introducing build certainty months in advance.” 


Banyards and the Education Sector 

By embracing Banyards services, students, teachers, and construction projects benefit not only from our expertise but also our commitment to industry standards. We ensure these critical buildings are not just efficient but sustainable and conducive spaces for learning and growth that stand the test of time.

To find out more contact 

Our services / Written 15th March, 2024


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