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We all know that the quality of the built environment has a major impact on the way we live, learn, work and play. Good design and maintenance is about providing buildings and spaces that are fit for purpose, built to last and which create safe, healthy, sustainable environments. This is especially important when it comes to education. There is strong, consistent evidence that extremes of environmental factors (e.g. poor ventilation or excessive noise) can have negative effects on students and teachers. In fact, academic research rates temperature, heating and air quality as the most important individual elements for student achievement. Over 90% of those surveyed in the report believe well-built and sensibly designed schools improve pupil behaviour and educational outcomes.
Whether new build or refurbishment, specifying and installing the right doors and windows has a significant role to play and will impact positively on the three key areas that define a ‘healthy’ school: ventilation; light; temperature. Correctly designed and positioned windows will ensure adequate and efficient natural ventilation in classrooms, and when fitted with easy to use opening and closing mechanisms, are the quickest way to allow to air quality to be easily maintained. They also help mitigate winter heat loss and summertime overheating and there are a range of specialist glass and coatings including solar now available. In addition to contributing to higher academic performance and better fatigue resistance, studies also report better building envelope energy efficiency and the accompanying heating / cooling cost savings.
To achieve an optimum, the lighting strategy needs to be sensibly considered early in the design process to allow for proper coordination and integration. Also known as daylighting, appropriately placed windows will capture daylight into a room and comparisons between pupils in properly daylit classrooms and non-daylit classrooms show students had fewer cavities, gained weight and grew in height more.
More than 70% of windows and doors in continental Europe are coloured and we are fast following their lead. One in four UK windows and doors is now manufactured in colour and demand is showing no sign of slowing with one in three windows in the UK now coloured.
Technical innovation and development in coatings, anodising and foiling means that basically any colour of window or door is now possible. Grey aluminium is increasingly popular for schools, and we also have the ability to mix and match to suit the style of building.