Refurbishment as the primary goal

18 Oct 2017

Primary schools in Fife are being adapted, refurbished and upgraded to help improve facilities and reflect changing educational policy. Craig Reid, PVC Contracts Director at CMS Window Systems, explains how replacement doors and windows are playing a part.

At the core of the Scottish Government’s strategy to deliver a world-class education system is a building investment programme designed to ensure that children and teachers can excel in a high quality learning environment.

In line with similar schemes in England and Wales over the past two decades, beyond the headline-grabbing new build projects is an important programme to refurbish and extend existing schools, which is accommodating the latest policy goals and enabling schools to cost-effectively evolve.

Fife Council is a local authority whose infrastructure typifies the need for school building investment to be a mix of new build and refurb. The council’s continuous programme of maintenance and repair is complemented by a capital investment programme to ensure school buildings can be periodically upgraded to utilise the latest building products to meet enhanced energy efficiency and sustainability goals, as well as accommodating change.

Replacement of the doors and windows is one of the most important ways to transform a school building, and this is why Fife Council has been undertaking such work with CMS Window Systems throughout the past decade.

Providing for early years teaching
The latest projects which have been completed at primary schools in Leuchars, Cupar and High Valleyfield are in line with the Scottish Government’s objectives outlined in A Plan For Scotland: The Scottish Government's Programme For Scotland 2016-17. In this document, the Scottish Government states its intention to close the attainment gap in Scotland’s education between the most and least deprived communities through a higher quality education provision from the early years right through to university.

In all three of these schools, the door and window replacement projects have been fundamental to driving up standards. The schools are all 1970s-built structures which are well-suited to fenestration upgrades given their design – in the case of Leuchars and High Valleyfield – incorporating elevations with curtain walling and ribbon windows. Since their last upgrade, the performance capability of the doors and windows has increased significantly. This means greater thermal and acoustic insulation, increased air-tightness and reduced risk of summertime overheating due to excessive solar gain. The resulting indoor environments have a more stable climate all year round and are less prone to interruptions from external noise.

Sustainability in action
These three door and window projects have been crucial in helping the schools minimise their carbon footprint and reduce energy usage.

The cumulative total of 686 windows, 19 doors and 181m2 of curtain walling across the three projects are manufactured using organically stabilised, lead-free PVCu profile. This features a multi-chamber design to minimise thermal transfer between the warm interior and the cold exterior to deliver an overall U-value of 1.3 W/m2K. All windows are fully reinforced with a non-metallic reinforcement made from 100% recycled plastic that combines great strength with low thermal transmission.

The glazing specification is carefully considered too. The windows and doors feature UK-manufactured double glazed units (DGUs) which balance thermal insulation and solar reflection. This works passively in the background to help maintain the right internal climate.

Increased air-tightness, achieved by a high standard of manufacture in combination with skilled installation, ensures that ventilation can be better controlled and less heat will be lost through draughty gaps. And whilst the windows were not required to achieve any above normal acoustic insulation goals, the very fact that the windows are well-built, installed to a high standard and sealed means less external noise can penetrate.

Finally, the installed PVCu windows at all three primary schools are part of a closed-loop recycling initiative, which has been recognised in awards with various third party organisations, including in the European Union’s European Business Awards for the Environment.

As part of the replacement contracts in Fife, CMS Window Systems collected all the existing doors and windows, separated them into their respective materials and sent them for recycling. This meant virtually zero waste from the old windows and doors went to landfill. The windows which replace them are highly recyclable too, including the double glazed units which are being recycled in a pioneering scheme with Saint-Gobain Glass which is seeing post-use glass being re-used in today’s new doors and windows.

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