How to maintain acceptable living conditions in school premises?

Preventive measures

The consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict on energy supply have led the government to request the implementation of savings measures.

Public buildings are required to respect a threshold of 19°C and this measure does not rule out schools. Usually, the average temperature in classrooms is 22°C. The 12 million pupils of schools, colleges and high schools will thus have to endure a certain freshness to listen to their teacher and carry out the work that will be given to them.

In addition, they will be asked as well as the teaching and service staff to respect the eco-gestures allowing to contain energy consumption when the ECOWATT alerts are orange or red.

As soon as night falls, it is therefore recommended to close the blinds, curtains or shutters. A fortiori, this precaution will also apply during periods when the establishment is closed.

In terms of lighting, if it has not already been done, the replacement of incandescent, halogen or fluorescent lamps with LED lamps must be carried out and the use of lighting must be strictly limited to periods of occupation of the premises. Outdoor lighting fixtures will also be turned off and turned on only when needed. Equipping this equipment with presence detectors makes it possible to automate this practice. It will however be necessary that the adjustments are finely executed so that ignition and extinction are executed without delay.

School or extracurricular activities involving high energy consumption are to be avoided (examples: cooking pottery or cakes). They must be limited for the preparation of meals in school catering.

The renewal of air is important but it is nevertheless requested, in exceptional circumstances, to limit it. Thus, the windows will not be open to ventilate after class as in previous years, the ventilation systems will be set to their minimum.

If there are electric vehicles in the establishment, they will only be recharged during off-peak hours.

Proper heating management is an important factor in savings. Limiting heating in unoccupied rooms and lowering the temperature set point at night is essential. However, it will be necessary to sufficiently anticipate the rise in temperature (before 8 a.m.) so that the occupants are not welcomed in cold rooms. If the establishment is not yet equipped with one, the implementation of a programming system makes it possible to automate the management of all these instructions.

The ECOWATT service has set up an electricity weather forecast. This is simple information given on electricity consumption forecasts:

  • Green when power consumption is normal
  • Orange when consumption becomes tighter. It is therefore advisable to apply eco-gestures.
  • Red: The system is very tense and the risk of cuts is very probable. In addition to eco-gestures, it is prudent to prepare for them.

The heads of establishments will be able to set up a watch concerning this weather by registering with ECOWATT. They will receive on the media of their choice (SMS or e-mail) the current “cut vigilance” alert and will thus be warned in the event of a risk of cuts. They will also receive information on the most effective eco-gestures and when to apply them.

To subscribe to the “cutting vigilance” alert:

In the event of power outages

The measures that we have just mentioned are intended to avoid having to carry out load shedding. These extreme measures should not impact the targeted sectors for more than two hours and will be carried out during periods of high consumption. Users will not all be impacted and will be in turn. Finally, establishments at risk such as hospitals will not be affected.

And if, despite efforts to save energy, there is a cut, we will have to adapt. How will an establishment function without heating and without light when outside it is freezing cold?

At the time of writing the Ministry of National Education has not answered this question. No text evokes this hypothesis which nevertheless can occur.

We can imagine operating in degraded mode, the common thread being to never harm the health of students.

The measures to be taken will remain at the discretion of the directors who will have the children dressed more warmly or at the extreme decide to close their establishment, but this measure will obviously be poorly appreciated by the parents who will have to find emergency childcare solutions.

However, some measures can be considered to anticipate such a crisis.

It is possible to provide for the supply of auxiliary oil or gas heaters which will compensate, at least partially, for stopping the heating. Their power and number must be adapted to the size of the room to be heated. Such devices with a power of 2200W can ensure the heating of a volume of about 75 m3.

If the choice is to group them together in a room with a high volume such as a gymnasium or a school canteen, “heat guns” used on construction sites will be able to ensure the heating of such a volume.

Another measure is to group the students together as much as possible in the best insulated rooms.

Light is as necessary as heating. It is possible and simple to anticipate a power cut by equipping the establishment with a generator. Its sizing will depend on the power of the devices it will have to supply. From a power of 3 KVA it is possible to find generating sets equipped with battery starters which will facilitate start-up. The installation of such equipment will be carried out by the technical services of the community or a company. Downstream of this electricity generator, two solutions are possible.

A first will consist of deploying a network of temporary cables (extensions, secure multiple sockets). It has the advantage of remaining completely independent of the electrical installation of the establishment and of supplying only the devices deemed necessary.

The second will consist of connecting the emergency power supply to the existing network, but it will absolutely be necessary to disconnect the general power supply from the public distribution network in order to isolate the installation from the establishment. At the end of the power outage, the emergency equipment (generator, auxiliary devices) can thus be disconnected before a return to normal.

For lighting, a simpler and more economical solution that can be complementary to the previous one will consist in distributing LED headlamps. They will make it possible to secure travel and the continuation of certain school activities.

Periods of high consumption…

The savings measures that we have just described mainly target certain periods of the day when energy consumption is a little out of control. According to ECOWATT (https://www.monecowatt.fr/ecogestes/)the periods of high consumption are in the morning between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. and in the evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Schools are mainly concerned by the morning period for measures concerning activity and by the second period for measures aimed at reducing unnecessary consumption when the establishment is closed.

How to maintain acceptable living conditions in school premises?