School buildings are in crisis. With many UK school buildings in poor condition and requiring urgent attention, funding for schools to refurbish and rebuild is also in short supply. But modular construction using structured insulated panels systems (SIPs for short) offers a fast, efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution.
Usually prefabricated in a factory and delivered fully-formed to the school site, classroom buildings constructed using modular SIPs panels are ideally suited to busy schools. Although the factory line approach suggests a rigid and uniform construction process, SIPs panel construction is in fact a flexible method – schools don’t have to stick to a one-size-fits-all template but can work with architects to design a classroom building that will meet their needs.
Importantly for schools requiring urgent refurbishment, the off-site construction method has several advantages that can help schools to get their new buildings up and running speedily.
Classrooms prefabricated using SIPs panels can be constructed and installed in a matter of weeks, because the site preparation work and off-site construction stages can be carried out simultaneously. With the prefabrication process taking place under cover, the project can go ahead whatever the weather. And by reducing the amount of time spent on-site, noisy and disruptive building work that might interrupt the school day can also be kept to a minimum.
A building project that is quick to complete and does not involve intrusive construction work translates into cost savings for the school – a vital concern in these cash-strapped times. Modular buildings are likely to provide a better return on investment than traditional builds. With excellent insulation properties, construction using SIPs panels also results in lower energy bills, because the classrooms retain warmth well and require only minimal heating.
For schools looking to the long term, durability is an important concern. Built using high quality, sustainable materials, modular SIPs panel classrooms can be expected to serve the school for as many as 50 years – providing a solution that offers real value for money and can be relied upon to last well into the future. (Modular buildings can even be uprooted and installed at another site, if the school relocates).
Comfortable learning spaces
Why is the state of our school buildings such an important issue? As well as being a potential health and safety concern, constructing comfortable learning spaces is vital for both teachers and pupils. According to a 2016 RIBA survey reported by Building Specifier, as many as 1 in 5 teachers have thought about leaving a school because of the environment they have to work in. So, creating a pleasant teaching space is high on the list if schools are to improve staff morale and retain valued teachers.
Learning environments can have a big impact on outcomes for children, too. From issues like lighting and air quality to factors like natural light and classroom structure, pupils do better in well-designed classrooms built from high quality materials.
Classroom construction using SIPS panels helps to address some of these issues, resulting in comfortable learning spaces that promote better engagement from all classroom users. Due to their structure and composition, SIPs panels offer excellent thermal performance, eliminating draughts and keeping out the cold and damp. The slimline profile of a SIPs panel also means thinner walls – and therefore more space inside the classroom. Finally, modular buildings constructed from SIPs panels have an aesthetically pleasing, modern appearance.
Steve Warr is the Director of Green Modular, a company which supplies unique and environmentally-friendly outdoor modular buildings as effective space solutions. Each modular building can be tailored to suit every space or budget and they are perfect for school buildings, mobile classrooms, meeting rooms or offices. Steve is passionate about the environment and creating sustainable and stylish solutions for extra space.