Case study: Woodford County High School for Girls

MEP-RenderinREL delivered the electrical works for the £11.5m expansion of a secondary school in Essex, which was completed in June 2017 ready for the new school year.

The brief
Built by Kier, the extension at Woodford County High School for Girls includes 13 science laboratories, computing and classroom facilities, and a roof terrace.

Appointed by Kershaw Mechanical Services, REL was responsible for all the electrical services in the new 3,800 sq m extension, including a new substation, lighting, power, security systems such as CCTV, data installation, access and intruder control, and supplying and fitting 109 solar modules on the roof.

REL had to develop the electrical design from stage 3, ensuring that all lighting and cabling calculations met the brief and were appropriate for the layout.

BIM wasn't formally required for this project, but REL's in-house experts used the software to co-ordinate the installation more effectively, ensuring all the electrical works could be seamlessly delivered alongside the structural and mechanical elements of the project.

This process also avoided the need to look at a drawing and manually count the materials required for the work, saving further time.

Improving energy efficiency
As well as sourcing and installing PV panels, the project also stipulated the need for lighting control in the classrooms and corridors.

Dimming detectors had to be sourced to automatically control lighting output. These detectors measure the overall light level in the classroom and regulate the output of the luminaires. This ensures the correct lighting level is maintained and saves energy when natural daylight can be used to replace/supplement luminaires (daylight harvesting).

Overcoming challenges
When sourcing the lighting controls, most standard products didn't meet the design brief as were only suitable for modular ceilings. As a result, REL had to find an alternative that could provide a hardwired solution that would be suitable for an exposed conduit system, sourcing a product from CP Electronics.

Installation of the electrical services had to be carefully co-ordinated with the mechanical elements within the building such as the sprinkler systems, drainage and water pipework. The science classrooms featured a large number of desks, benches and islands, which had to be penetrated from the floor upwards, so care had to be taken during the design stage to ensure that the M&E services coordinated to provide the neatest solution. This was largely achieved through clash detection within a 3D model.

Regular meetings were held to assist with this co-ordination and the main trunking, which ran into each classroom, was hidden behind acoustic rafts.

Successful completion
Spanning 12 months, the project was completed within budget and on time ready for the school to open to students in September 2017.

Speaking about its success, Gemma Rees, Project Manager at Kier Construction, said:

"REL is an incredibly proactive, knowledgeable and competent contractor. Its technical, design and installation teams have an exceptional level of specialist knowledge which added significant value to the Woodford County High School project.

"We were also impressed by the way the team took personal pride in their work, ensuring that all works were carried out with the utmost quality and care. Furthermore, REL worked co-operatively and collaboratively with us as the principal contractor always ensuring our programme deadlines were met.

"We wouldn't hesitate to work with REL again."

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