Opening the door to a good education
David Shields, from ASSA ABLOY UK Specification, offers practical advice for anyone specifying doorsets and ironmongery for education settings
Posted by Julian Owen | November 29, 2018 | Security & safety
education, assa-abloy-uk-specification, doorsets, ironmongery, equality-act-2010, accessibility

In a procurement environment, with multiple stakeholders and where funding is tightly controlled, education buildings have to be flexible and future-proofed. They need to deliver cost certainty and the highest standards of specification.

This is why contractors, architects, local education authorities, facilities managers and head teachers are often pulled in very different directions when it comes to product specification.

The Building Regulations 2010 apply to all education buildings in England and Wales, including nurseries, schools and universities. They set standards not only to ensure the safety and health of people in or around buildings, but also cover energy conservation and accessibility. They apply to the construction of new schools and to many alterations of, and improvements to, existing school buildings.

Accessibility and usability

The Equality Act 2010 requires all schools to prepare and implement an accessibility strategy to improve the physical environment of the school for pupils with disabilities and special educational needs (SEN). This should include consideration of their particular health and safety needs on the school premises.

Doorsets can be specified in order to adhere to the needs of pupils with disabilities and SEN. For example, colour contrast between the edge of the door and the door surface can help to achieve an inclusive environment.

Creating the correct level of accessibility and an efficient flow through a building for staff and children is a key priority when it comes to meeting these requirements, but must be balanced with the need to provide a safe learning environment.

That is why fully compliant doorsets that help manage traffic flow and access are integral for any education building looking to meet the requirements of the Equality Act.

With doorsets playing an integral part to the make-up of a school setting, internally and externally, the overall look of the finished design will impact strongly on the building as a whole.

Health, safety and welfare

There are also a number of regulations that specifically focus on maintaining school premises so that the health, safety and welfare needs of pupils are safeguarded.

With approximately 30,000 children trapping their fingers in doors each year - and more than 1,500 of them needing surgery from such injuries - it is imperative that doors and ironmongery for education buildings are correctly specified, in order to mitigate this risk.

Fire safety

Correct specification of fire doors within nurseries, schools and universities is vital; not only from a liability perspective, but because their effectiveness can be the difference between life and death.

It is recommended to source certified doorsets as complete systems. However, should the door and associated components come from separate suppliers, there should be an audit trail to prove compliance and track performance at every stage.

Testing and certification of all products that can impact on fire safety should be mandatory, via independent, third-party testing.

Even if fire doors are specified, designed, manufactured and installed correctly, they will need to be inspected and maintained regularly, especially within educational settings where doorsets are highly likely to suffer from constant use.

Fully compliant doorsets that help manage traffic flow and access are integral for any education building looking to meet the requirements of the Equality Act.

Whole life costing

Education buildings are subjected to high frequency use and traffic flow, resulting in general wear and tear to building components. Specifying products supplied in an appropriate material or colour can make them easier to maintain.

One such example is the argument for laminate-faced doorsets, rather than painted. Although they would initially cost less, painted doors will require constant repainting, putting strain on facilities managers and maintenance teams. This adds to the overall lifecycle cost, especially when you consider how many doorsets there are within a typical school building.

Acoustics

Unwanted noise is a big issue in learning environments, with acoustics often one of the most difficult balancing acts. Studies into the impact of high noise levels in educational facilities have shown that poor acoustics can have a detrimental effect on learning.

Conversations and lessons need to be heard clearly, so managing sound transfer between classrooms is integral. That is why correct specification of doorsets between rooms and teaching areas is so important for today’s architects and contractors.

Aesthetics

Let us not forget the impact of good aesthetics to a building’s occupants. With doorsets playing an integral part to the make-up of a school setting, internally and externally, the overall look of the finished design will impact strongly on the building as a whole.

There are a huge array of materials and finishes for doors and hardware on the market, so it is invaluable to be able to sit down with a manufacturer and discuss requirements in order to decide on the most appropriate products for your specific education project.

ASSA ABLOY UK Specification has issued a whitepaper on the topic of specifying doorsets and ironmongery for education settings. To download a copy, please click here.

David Shields, is National Specification Manager for ASSA ABLOY UK Specification

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