Paul Martin, National Sales Manager at ATAG Commercial, looks at how advances in modern boilers will help enhance schools’ green credentials.

There are currently 32,770 schools in the UK, each of which have to meet the heating and hot water requirements of students and teaching staff. With the majority of UK school buildings being over 40-years-old, the latest condensing gas boilers offer significant benefits, such as greater sustainability, and reduced energy bills.

Lowering carbon levels from schools is already on the government agenda, with the Business and Energy Secretary announcing in March 2021 the intention to cut emissions from industry, schools, and hospitals as part of a new Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy. 

This builds upon the 10-point plan announced in 2020, with schools assessed to have “considerable potential to reduce energy through investment in energy saving measures and better practices”, as well as the potential to “save around 4,810GWh, which is the equivalent to the energy use of around 300,000 households”.

Commercial heating manufacturers have already made significant advances in the design and engineering of gas boilers, leading to greater levels of performance, especially in key components, such as the heat exchanger, pump, and controls. Each of these play a pivotal role in maximising reliability and reducing emissions, which is essential when installing for an education environment.

In order to cater for a school’s heating and hot water demands, boilers need to be powerful, as well as flexible, while offering a balance between boosting efficiency and minimising any downtime required for servicing or repair. While sourcing a boiler claiming to meet these requirements is usually simple enough, there are other important factors to consider. 

Of all the internal components, the relationship between the heat exchanger and the pump is crucial in ensuring energy efficiency remains as high as possible. Heat exchanger technology has evolved considerably during the last decade, resulting in improved heat transfer, while maintaining reliability – especially when made from stainless steel. 

Stainless steel has unique properties, which offer great benefits when used in heat exchanger construction. The material remains smooth, despite the presence of sulphuric and nitric acid in the water (created from flue gas condensate). 

In fact, stainless steel can neutralise any such corrosive effect and sustain a longer-lasting, higher level of operational efficiency when compared to alternative heat exchanger materials. Given the volatility of the operational environments heat exchangers are exposed to as part of commercial heating systems, this is a significant plus point.

The size of the boilers being fitted is another important factor when considering units for a school environment and, quite simply, the smaller the units are the better, as they take up less space inside a plant room. Modern boilers are more lightweight and compact than ever before, enabling multiple units to be fitted as part of the same system, maximising energy efficiency via greater turndown ratios and modulation capacity.

Cascade arrangements (usually ranging from two to eight boilers) are also becoming more common. This helps to extend a system’s lifespan by sharing the load, so it isn’t reliant on one unit for heating and hot water. Doing so reduces the risk of a complete breakdown – which would then mean a school would have to close until repairs had taken place. 

Furthermore, in order for boilers to run at their full potential, the rest of the heating system needs to be evaluated and assessed accordingly. For instance, should a new boiler be fitted to an older system, there could be debris and/or dirty water in the pipes; if this were to be transferred into the new unit, it would be unable to operate effectively and efficiently. 

A preventative measure is to fit an effective system air/dirt separation kit, which removes contaminants from the system water – enabling the boiler and associated heating system components to operative at optimum levels.

Finally, regular inspection, servicing, and maintenance is paramount for commercial heating systems, especially in a school environment. This will reduce the risk of unexpected failures and downtime, while still adhering to low carbon requirements.

So, in order to reduce emissions and enhance sustainability, schools should look to the latest condensing commercial boilers as the units of choice. Not only do these units provide excellent and consistent levels of heating and hot water, they boast the latest in heating technology, ensuring low fuel bills and outstanding levels of energy efficiency.