BAM is working with the Department for Education as part of their initiative to foster better collaboration with contractors.  


As part of the initiative, BAM’s Design and sustainability teams, in-conjunction with the CIBSE school design group, carried out a study to examine how the predicted changes to our global climate will influence the overheating of schools in the future. This is because there is a risk that a warming climate will result in higher internal temperatures, leading to a rise in the demand for cooling and increased energy use and carbon emissions.

The study was carried out in two phases. Phase one used CIBSE weather data, to project how warm the UK will be between 2050 and 2080 and if these rises would impact two schools that BAM had designed. In both cases, we found that a rise in temperature would lead to more frequent overheating, which would need to be addressed by adapting the design via approaches such as passive design strategies e.g. solar shading and passive solutions. Knowledge that we can now use to help us mitigate the impact of climate change on new and existing school buildings. 


Phase two involved assessing the data from nine BAM buildings, to see if there were any gaps between predicted v actual energy usage and why in some cases performance goals were not being achieved e.g. build quality, fabric issues and building utilisation. At one of our schools in the South West of the UK, we discovered that the night cooling system was effective but because the Building Management System was set incorrectly, the heating was coming on when the temperature dropped, wasting money and increasing carbon. 

In most cases, higher than expected energy usage can be relatively simple to solve through changes to the building control system (as per the example of the school in the study). The main problem is that all too often we are not collecting the data we need to flag discrepancies in performance, so it’s impossible to know when things need improving or identify trends, which can be rectified.

Too often data collection is seen as a way of apportioning blame when things have gone wrong. Instead, customers and project teams should see it as a valuable opportunity to unlock improvements in the way we design, build and operate schools.

BAM was the only contractor who shared data for this study. Highlighting our commitment to delivering the best building performance outcomes for our customers across the whole life of a building. To support this BAM Design’s Building Physics team regularly goes beyond compliance requirements, when modelling a building’s energy performance at the design stage. This makes it easier to track and remedy any performance gaps going forward and gives us valuable data, which can be fed back into the design process to deliver buildings that are more resilient to climate change.

The complete article on the DfE study can be found here