Solihull School

A-grade savings with school’s more uniform washrooms solution

At the heart of providing a quality educational environment is ensuring all communal facilities within a school complex are equipped to the highest standard, without being detrimental to smooth and cost efficient day-to-day running. Nowhere is this more important than in the independent schools sector where parents make an active decision to seek out the best establishments for their children based on a wide variety of factors, including the quality and upkeep of the buildings.

At Solihull School, one of its latest facilities focus has been on its washrooms, a move that has not only delivered a more hygienic, pleasant environment but saved money in the process. Like many long established schools and colleges, the way the site has evolved over the years had resulted in different provision in the washrooms depending on their location, so bringing greater uniformity and hygiene was a priority.

Managing a gradual evolution

Founded in 1560, Solihull School is a leading coeducational independent school for 7-18 year olds occupying a site of approximately 55 acres. The school moved to its present site in 1882 and developed in phases since, most notably in 1980s and 1990s with the addition of improved facilities for Science, Design and Technology, Modern Languages and the Junior School.  Since then the school has created multiple new buildings including a new outdoor activities centre, new teaching areas, an extension to the Junior School and, in 2009, a new Music School was completed.

One of Solihull School’s greatest successes is its Sixth Form and key to maintaining its reputation has been the development of the new Cooper Building. This new £4m state-of-the-art Sixth Form Centre, opened in September 2015, is a stunning four-floor facility which sits at the heart of the school and ensures students and teachers have amongst the best facilities of their kind in the country.

Designed by Birmingham-based architect Malcolm Payne Group Ltd, the sustainable building includes an external roof garden, the latest technology for teaching and learning and a multi-purpose event space.

Bringing washroom efficiencies and savings

Ahead of the completion of the Cooper Building, the school took the decision to review the way its washroom facilities were configured and that included the methods for hand drying.

School Marshal at Solihull School, Chris McCall, initiated the review with the primary aim of bringing a much more consistent approach to help simplify operations and deliver cost and energy savings. Chris says:

“We were at the stage where we had washrooms kitted out in numerous different ways with regard to hand drying provision. Some were equipped with linen roller towels, others provided paper towels and several washrooms were also fitted with very old electric dryers which were difficult to keep operational and very inefficient in terms of energy when they were working.

“We’d seen how other schools had benefited by installing the latest generation of hand dryers so contacted LowEnergyHandDryers.com to explore how we could provide a better solution. Some parts of the school will always need paper or linen roller towels, such as in the art department and kitchens, but in general we saw enormous scope to make savings.”

LowEnergyHandDryers.com began working with Solihull School in 2014. The rolling programme has seen the removal of the majority of paper towel dispensers and linen roller towels with new Biolite and Biobot dryers replacing them. These are super low energy in operation, activated by an infrared sensor and powered by a high speed 650W motor to dry hands in just 10 seconds. Biobot dryers are specifically designed for younger age groups, consuming just 10% of the energy used by a conventional hand dryer and delivering a saving of up to 98.5% over paper towels.

Biobots help to teach children the benefits of using energy efficient products to help reduce our carbon footprint and provide a better environment for their future and the generations to come. Every Biobot hand dryer also comes with a colourful backboard that has an energy saving message. The back board is durable and can be wiped clean as part of the everyday maintenance of the washroom.

Starting with an initial 15 Biolite dryers and two Biobot units, the school has gone on to install a further 30 Biolite driers, some of which are fitted in the new Cooper Building. This has brought increased standardisation across the school, already reducing labour costs and time for towel replenishment, washroom tidying and the cost of linen roller towel hire.

Chris adds: “We’re already benefiting from the fact that it is easier to keep the washrooms in top condition and, over the service life of the dryers, we have forecast some significant cost and energy savings. As a school we are committed to operating in a way that keeps our carbon footprint to a minimum and our Biolite and Biobot dryers will help us towards our targets. In terms of cost, clearly the dryers’ low electricity consumption is important in respect of lowering our energy bills, but already reducing our reliance on towels has enabled us to cut our linen roller towel hire cost by half.”

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