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Schools still offer business opportunities for contractors

Electrical contractors are being urged by Schneider Electric not to give up on the business opportunities offered by the education sector, despite the Government crack down on education costs.

The cancellation of the £55bn, 20-year Building Schools for the Future programme has put a stop to 715 new builds,

however, spending will still be required to bring existing schools up-to-date. Schneider Electric believes that this is an opportunity to recommend quick and easy installation solutions that can help educational establishments save money, go green and create a better learning environment.

The fact that new school building projects have disappeared is going to put pressure on the older buildings they would have replaced and create opportunities for maintenance and small-scale renovation projects. Essential repairs on electrical circuits, networks and installations can be carried out which will upgrade existing equipment without causing major disruption. Indeed, if properly planned in advance, these can be scheduled for forthcoming half-term and Christmas breaks.

To ensure projects are finished within the timeframes, contractors should consider simpler solutions, such as ‘plug and play’ products which enable quick and straight forward wiring installations, that can be easily adapted and modified as necessary. Schneider Electric offers a range of plug and play components, which can be linked together seamlessly to create a complete wiring installation.

To help contractors add value to a project, Schneider Electric has devised a simple four-step approach to energy efficiency. It acts as a guide to achieving carbon reductions and offering the best result for a customer. Step one is measuring current energy usage, as this needs to be understood before it can be managed. Step two is fixing the basics, such as using energy efficient lighting, or changing behaviour to ensure lights and electrical equipment is switched off when not in use. The third step is automate, for example, via building management systems to control heat and light and step four is monitor and improve. Energy efficiency needs to be taken into consideration in all installations and schools are no exception.

Marc Garner, segment marketing manager for education at Schneider Electric, believes now is the right time to target these projects. "For many in the construction sector, the news of the cancellation of school building projects has been pretty devastating. However, there are significant opportunities for electrical contractors, in particular in older buildings where installations need to be brought up-to-date. The strong selling point for local authorities, who are now under extreme pressure to cut budgets, is the opportunity to achieve significant energy cost savings."

Offering these future-proof solutions for school buildings is a useful way for contractors to secure deals in this sector. Marc Garner continues: "Creating a 21st century school is vital, so considering technologies that offer a flexible solution for the future is key to a successful refurbishment project.

"Introducing a building management system (BMS) to control lighting and heating is great way to ensure schools can manage their energy and costs for the future. In addition, a BMS provides a more pleasant working and learning environment. Schneider Electric’s four step approach gives contractors a guide to work through and by ensuring all the stages are followed; customers will be pleased with the end energy efficient results."

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