Do you think your local school is in need of some upgrades? Most people will answer yes to this question, even if their schools were renovated recently. This is because school facilities can suffer from deferred maintenance. With so many factors competing for funds, often overlooked is a facility’s exterior walls, openings and joints. Many districts don’t have a routine maintenance plan in place to monitor and take care of issues with the exterior envelope. Yet the condition of the envelope has a significant impact on efficiency of HVAC systems, comfort of interior occupants and conditions of the finishes and materials on the inside of the building.
As exterior materials such as mortar, sealants, window and door systems deteriorate, the walls and windows of a school building can become drafty, take on moisture, make HVAC systems work harder and introduce pests into the facility. Ultimately, this has a direct impact on the comfort of the staff and students which can have a negative impact on student learning. Also, inefficiencies in these systems cost the school and taxpayers more money in the long run.
Routine maintenance programs can have a positive impact on a building’s performance and the occupants within its walls. This can be as simple as sealing open and deteriorated joints, re-glazing old windows and replacing systems when funds are available. Some of the benefits to upgrading the exterior envelope are:
- Reduction in annual energy usage
- Improved occupant comfort
- Increased useful life of a facility
- Reduced first cost of new HVAC systems when undergoing an HVAC replacement
- Access to energy rebates from utility companies from improving energy efficiency of a facility
- Improved aesthetics enhancing community pride in facilities
Districts should also review the exterior envelope of a facility when beginning any major renovation or HVAC system replacement. Many times, the benefits of including improvements to a deteriorated envelope are overlooked and aren’t considered when embarking on a new project. Working with a consultant to help identify envelope improvements concurrently with a renovation project can help increase the value of the investment in new renovations to existing facilities.
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||I have been working with school boards, administrators, teachers and students of K-12 facilities for the majority of my career as an architect. School boards and administration are under a lot of pressure to work with small budgets, maintain and improve their facilities, appeal to their school families and communities and most importantly, keep children engaged in the learning process.
Working with schools to set the backdrop of their students’ education through high quality and appropriate facilities has been a rewarding and exciting aspect of my career. It continues to drive me to help seek better environments for our children as we all share in the responsibility of teaching, protecting and helping our future grow.
Tandi Dausener, AIA, Architect
800.798.3040 | email@example.com