Brent Schools Retrofit Studies

North London

Decarbonisation study of 13 buildings, across 5 schools to establish common approaches for their retrofit.

Location: North London

Client: London Borough of Brent Council

Project Value: £15m

Status: Study Complete

Specialisation: Staged Retrofit Action Plans, Presentations to students, Renewables assessment

ECD led a decarbonisation study of 13 buildings across five schools in Brent to establish common approaches for their retrofit which could be applied across the rest of the estate. For the facilities constructed before 2000 two typical building archetypes were established — “Traditional” and “Modern”, with retrofit paths outlined for both. However, due to the variety of building types, “hybrid” approaches would also be common.

In recognition of the financing mechanisms behind school improvement projects, our simulation aimed to demonstrate the effects of a step-by step retrofit. In particular, the impact of undertaking such light-touch measures as cavity wall or loft insulation, ahead of deeper fabric improvements.

The impact of these “easy wins” is usually not very significant, highlighting that it would be best to tackle all the recommended retrofit measures at onceTo ensure the conservation of energy, decarbonisation of heating and hot water provision, replacement of boilers with air source heat pumps would need to be undertaken as the last step on route to a Net-Zero-Ready estate.

The study also concluded that installation of PVs would only be able to meet a small portion of the buildings’ energy demands, so it is the improvement of the building fabric that needs to be prioritised.

Basic draught-proofing measures and the installation of Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery were recommended as the first step in all the scenarios, due to documented issues with ventilation- common in naturally ventilated schools.

“The final report was well written and easy to read and understand, making good use of illustrations; and the cost information was provided in a way that made it easy to extrapolate across the estate. The interactive workshops with the school children were well received and promoted a lot of discussions within the school communities they outreached to.”

– Neil Martin, Head of Capital Programmes

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