Back to blog

Use case: Primary school

WoodendPrimaryThe client

A state primary school with 400 pupils aged five to eleven years old.

Most of the rooms are contained in the main block built in the 1930s, although it was extended in the 1960s and has been supplemented with several classrooms in prefabricated buildings.

The problem

The 2021-2022 energy price fluctuations have prompted a review of the school’s energy usage. The conclusion was that the school’s energy costs are beyond its budget and unless they can be substantially lowered within a few weeks, the school will not be able to remain open for five days per week.

The school uses a ‘wet’ central heating system, using radiators in each room heated by a gas-powered central boiler. None of the buildings are well-insulated.

The Atamate solution

For schools that urgently need to lower energy costs, we offer a version of the Atamate operating system that can be installed quickly and, in most schools, will pay for itself within three years. The system components are:

  • A sensor unit in every room that monitors the indoor environment, including the temperature.
  • A wired control valve on every radiator.
  • A central hub that processed the sensor unit data and operated the radiators accordingly.

The system offered several options for heating control which were used at different times of day:

  • Calendar control: the hub can be programmed to start heating the classrooms an hour before school starts, bringing them to the 21°C (70°F) setpoint before the school day begins.
  • Occupancy control: during the day, the hub uses the sensors to detect room occupancy and avoids wasting energy on heating empty rooms. The same function turns the heating down at the end of the school day, so nobody needs to remember to turn the radiators off.
  • Boost: A teacher can override the hub settings to ‘boost’ a classroom’s temperature to 2°C (3.6°F) above the setpoint, which was often used when a class had been outdoors during cold weather.

The original intention was that the limited atBOS described above would deliver sufficient savings to pay for itself within three years. With gas prices at their current (October 2022) very high rates, the payback time is likely to be one year for most schools.

Added value

In classrooms, carbon dioxide levels often rise above 2,000ppm, a level that has been shown to impact both cognitive performance and school attendance. The sensor units enable teachers to view realtime air quality data on a computer or smartphone, showing them when to open windows to regulate carbon dioxide with minimal loss of heat energy.

The sensor data is stored in the cloud. Possible uses include:

  • Planning renovations by enabling calculations of how long it will take for the renovation costs to be paid back in energy savings. Such calculations avoid the expense of renovations that deliver little benefit and can be used to underpin funding applications.
  • Any quantifiable energy savings can be presented as part of a school’s commitment to greenhouse gas reduction through initiatives like the Let’s Go Zero

At a glance

Project description Low-budget, rapid implementation of improved heating efficiency in a primary school
Atamate controlled systems
  • Heating
Atamate data products
  • Indoor environment monitoring
Mechanical systems
  • Thermostatic radiator valves