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Nottinghamshire - United Kingdom

Energy ‘makeover’ for mobile classrooms


All Saints Catholic School in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire has 19 mobile classrooms that are now in permanent use. These classrooms had poor energy performance leading to high energy bills and very uncomfortable conditions with a lack of proper heating controls. The classrooms were also dull and uninspiring for teaching or learning.

The challenge was to carry out an energy ‘makeover’ (or refurbishment) that left in its wake newly decorated, transformed classrooms with improved lighting and acoustics, and insulated walls and ceilings. To meet this challenge Nottinghamshire County Council employed the services of Atkins Global Ltd, a private company that provides technologically-based consultancy and support services. So far, two of the 19 classrooms have had their makeover, with promising results.

Exterior of one of the mobile classrooms

Interior of one of the mobile classrooms before work began (lights removed)

Building details

Type of building : Mobile school classrooms
Year of construction/ Floor area/ Operating hours : Year built varies from 1982 to 1997- some came from other sites to the school so they were not new on arrival. Average floor area is 100m2 per classroom and there are 19 mobiles having an energy makeover.
Heating and cooling / measures installed An electrical heating system was already in place, but improved controls for this have been added. The controls allow heating for individual classrooms and office areas to be controlled for temperature and time. The walls and ceilings have been insulated to reduce temperature fluctuations.
Energy/CO2/Water label (before and after improvements if possible) Display® certificates will be issued to the classrooms once all of the work is completed. At the moment Nottinghamshire County Council has not signed up to the Display® Campaign, but they have agreed to. Atkins is a member of Display® and they will issue certificates for the first two mobile classrooms as an example.

Project Description

Aim The aim of this project was to carry out an energy makeover of 19 mobile classrooms at All Saints Catholic School, in order to improve lighting, thermal comfort, acoustics and ambience.
Key points In July 2006, Atkins conducted an energy audit of the mobile classrooms. They subsequently presented their findings and proposed solutions in a report to the school and a presentation to the head of the school and the site manager.


Image showing thermal loss from one of the mobile classrooms – the brighter the colour the greater the heat loss

_ The above thermal image of one of the classrooms shows where heat loss was occurring. The brighter the colour the greater the heat loss. Obviously windows are high energy emitters but the image shows that heat was also being lost through the wall fabric.The makeover work commenced on two of the mobile classrooms on site during the term break on the 23rd of October 2006. These two classrooms were taken out of school use to allow for the work to take place.

_ Insulation

Ceiling and wall insulation levels were improved by installing Sempatap, which is a lining that has been developed specifically to thermally insulate wall and ceiling surfaces. Sempatap is a 10mm latex foam insulating material with a durable fibreglass face and is as easy to apply as wallpaper.


On the table is a roll of Sempatap, which is applied to ceilings and walls in the same way as wallpaper

_ There are several benefits of the new insulation :

  • Increased room temperature and hence greater comfort during winter.
  • Reduced solar thermal gain in summer, making the classrooms cooler and more comfortable.
  • Increased surface temperature of the walls and ceilings, which inhibits the formation of condensation.


One of the classrooms with insulation on the walls and ceiling

_ Lighting

When Atkins Ltd conducted their survey of the mobile classrooms, the existing lighting levels were found to be low. The light was also poorly distributed within the classrooms with very little light falling on the white boards at the front of the rooms. The poor paint finish on the walls also left the rooms rather dark and dull.

_ The major improvement to the lighting system was achieved using light emitting diodes (LED), supplied by Whiteley Electronics Ltd. LEDs have a longer life and are 20 times more energy efficient than traditional fluorescent lighting. Light readings taken after the installation of LED lighting showed a more uniform distribution of light within the rooms, of a higher quality and more akin to daylight.


LED lighting in operation

_ Heating controls

Prior to the commencement of the building work an intelligent meter was fitted to monitor electricity consumption. This recorded half-hourly data on the electrical supply to the distribution board for the first two classrooms to be renovated. The data collected reflected the poor level of control that the mobile classrooms had over the electrical heating system. Heating was controlled by just one thermostat and one time switch fitted in one classroom to control two classrooms and two office areas. This was impractical and very wasteful.

_ New heating controls were installed as part of the makeover project. These controls allow heating in individual classrooms and office areas to be controlled for temperature and time. Monitoring of data from the intelligent meter showed how the improved controls resulted in a significant reduction in the base load and peak load electricity, which will be reflected in lower charges to the school and fewer CO2 emissions.

_ Finishing touch

Once all of the energy efficient measures were installed, the finishing touch was to paint the interior of the classrooms in a bright magnolia colour. This further enhanced the light levels in the rooms and added to the ‘feel good’ factor.

Reason for inclusion as Shining Example This Shining Example shows how energy efficient measures not only have the benefit of reducing energy consumption (and therefore energy cost), but also provide a healthier, more comfortable internal environment, in this case through improved lighting, acoustics and temperature in both winter and summer and a generally more pleasant working and learning environment.

_ This project also demonstrates the benefit of forming local partnerships with organisations that have the expertise and technology to make valuable contributions to energy efficiency projects. In this case, Atkins Ltd, who led the project and Whiteleys Ltd, who provided LED technology, worked together with the school to improve their energy efficiency, with benefits accruing to all parties and the environment.


Costs &


The funding for this project came from the Government through the Carbon Trust Local Authority Energy Finance (LAEF) scheme. The LAEF scheme funds the works to be carried out with 50% of the funding being provided by the Carbon Trust and 50% coming from the local authority. The scheme has to show energy and carbon savings and has to achieve a payback of five years or less. In the five-year payback period the school’s savings from reduced energy use are recovered and paid back into the LAEF scheme. The scheme can then loan out the money from a revolving fund which has been set up by the local authority.

_ The Carbon Trust is an independent company funded by the UK Government, who works with UK business and the public sector to cut carbon emissions and develop commercial low carbon technologies.
Benefits Atkins Ltd is currently monitoring energy consumption of the mobile classrooms using intelligent metering. Improvements in energy efficiency of the classrooms as a result of this project are already being reflected in data recorded by the metering, especially now that the cold winter period has arrived. This reduction in energy consumption will result in a smaller energy bill for the school and a reduction in CO2 emissions. Energy savings are forecast at 28724 kWh of electricity per mobile unit per annum because of the heating controls, insulation and LED lighting. CO2 savings are forecast to be 12 tonnes per mobile unit per annum. Monitoring so far has shown a 33% reduction in peak energy use. This will be compared with energy use over the winter period. Further data will be available at the end of the monitoring period in July 2007.

_ The energy makeover has also improved comfort levels in the classrooms, and has made the heating system far more effective. The overall wellbeing of staff and students is greatly improved and a feel-good factor has been achieved.

The new LED lighting in the mobile classrooms has been welcomed by the school and is a great improvement on the previous lighting. Acoustics have improved in the classrooms due to the Sempatap insulation, which makes the rooms better to teach and learn in.

Partnership details

Partners & role Atkins Ltd Design Solution Nottingham Office took the lead on this project. Whiteley Electronics Ltd took part by supplying the LED lighting scheme. The partnership with Whiteley Electronics was brokered by Atkins Ltd following up an enquiry made by the manufacturer to Nottinghamshire County Council, who were unsure of the lighting technology or where it could be used. Following investigation by Atkins Ltd a proposed trial was suggested to the school who were very interested and keen to be the first school in the United Kingdom to utilise this technology.

_ An example Display® certificate was used in the main report for the school that was produced following the energy audit. The report mentioned the opportunities that Display could provide the school and discussed the use of ‘Energy Teams’ (E Teams) to promote energy conservation.

_ This is the first of the Nottinghamshire County Council energy efficiency schemes. Atkins Ltd will monitor the school for a period of six months to see the results of the energy make over. The plan is to then kick off the Display® Campaign with the school to see how far up the label the school can move. Monitoring using intelligent metering will be able to show changes in energy consumption due to changes in behaviour.


Achievements Selling the energy makeover concept to the school required a quality report which had photographic evidence of the problems and issues. Meeting with the site management staff, who were also provided with a copy of the report, was fundamental to the success of the project. Atkins Ltd found that it was important to focus on the opportunities to make a difference and not the issues of why things were not working properly.

_ The major issue with the LED lighting system was that it had never been used inside a school to light a whole classroom. The insulation, Sempatap, had never been used in mobile classrooms. Therefore the contractors had to be trained on how to install the LED lighting system and the painter/decorator had to be trained on installing the Sempatap insulation. Following training these workers were certificated and qualified to undertake the work. Therefore this project has resulted in increased skill levels for the industry.

_ Another issue was emptying a classroom while the work was underway. This caused disruption to the school’s timetable, especially because this initially involved two classrooms being taken out of use. However, the programme now works on one classroom at a time, which is more manageable for the school.

_ To-date, feedback from teaching staff has been very positive. Atkins Ltd is continuing to monitor the impressions of both staff and students and the results from this will be presented in a report in July 2007. De Montfort University in Leicester has agreed to undertake the impartial questionnaire of students and teaching staff and to evaluate the results. This will form part of a Masters of Science dictation and again shows how Display® is forming further partnerships and delivering quality results.

_ The intelligent meter monitoring is ongoing and should continue to reflect the influence of the new heating controls and energy efficient measures installed. This will be validated in a follow up report by Atkins Ltd, which will have six months of monitoring data to work from based on half-hourly information recorded on site.
Lessons Learned One of the main drivers that pushed this project along was the enthusiasm of the Atkins Ltd consultant, Don Lack, who took the lead on this project. Project management and monitoring has been essential throughout the course of the project.

_ The project is designed to be replicated with other mobile classrooms anywhere in Europe. The LAEF scheme is running in 19 other local authorities within the UK, although this project is the first to use these measures (LED lighting, Sempatap insulation) and undertake an energy makeover. Don Lack noted that he “is very proud of the works and being involved in the project and has a real buy-in to the ethos of the scheme”.

To know more



Atkins Global Limited
Contact Donald Lack
Phone +44 (0)115 957 4932

Useful info


Arrangements to visit The school is willing to allow visits to see the technology and is looking at arranging possible study tours with Energie-Cités in the future for other schools (or consultants) who have similar building types or would be interested in seeing the LED lighting. It may be possible to create a video of the work being done on the final unit by the school students themselves (as part of a media study group) to put on the school’s website. This is being followed up at the moment.

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