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March 26 2013

18:15

Britain’s New Baseline School Design Sacrifices Style for Savings

Britain’s Education Secretary Michael Gove and the Department for Education have released blueprints for the baseline design for schools that they believe “demonstrate good practice that can be achieved within [a] set cost and area allowances.” The government’s goal is to reduce the cost of new school buildings from the previous £21m to less than £14m each for the replacement of 261 of the most run-down schools in the country.

These new schools, however, will be 15% smaller than the ones designed originally under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) program, potentially compromising important spaces such as corridors, assembly halls, canteens and atriums. Many teachers have expressed concern for these changes, as they could lead to congestion, bad behavior among students and would “undermine attempts to maximize the value for money of school buildings by making them available for community functions after hours.”

Architects and the architecture community at large are also worried about the design implications of such a standardized school building prototype – how will it interact with the existing school buildings and how could restricted design affect Britain’s educational system?

More after the break…

One of the new templates released by the government reads: “A standardized approach should be taken, with the aim of creating simple designs that have the potential to be replicated on a number of sites. This may be achieved by using standardized dimensions for similar types of spaces that are integrated into an efficient planning and structural grid.”

There are ways of making standardized yet good designs, as The Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright explains in his article on Oscar Niemeyer’s homogenized yet great school blueprints in Brazil. However, many of the new limitations on British schools are not conducive to this and are, frankly, a little ridiculous: no folding internal partitions to subdivide classrooms, no roof terraces that can be used as play areas, no glazed walls or translucent plastic roofs and, perhaps the most extreme, no curves. It’s as if government officials decided to list off and prohibit every architectural element they believed to be costly instead of seeing the design as flexible within a pre-determined budget and without considering each element’s social and educational implications.

The government has made it clear that money is what is at stake here, and they are doing what they can to send a clear message to architects that this program will be a no-frills operation. Gove even told a conference on free schools last year that they would not be hiring ”any award-winning architects to design [the blueprint] because no one in this room is here to make architects richer.”

Many architects, such as Peter Clegg of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, feel that the government’s attitude shows an “extreme lack of trust in the architectural and construction professions to deliver schools to budget.” It’s also unclear if it’ll even be possible to apply the prototype to every single situation, as the blueprint claims. Clegg also believes that it’s best to just go the traditional route and evaluate existing schools on a case-by-case basis and then decide where to invest a limited amount of money.

These blueprints also bring up the question of how important a building is to a student’s education. Most can agree that an innovative, state-of-the-art design doesn’t inherently make a school perform well, as with the case of Perry Beeches academy in Birmingham, one of the worst-performing schools in 2007 with one of the priciest designs. But while some believe that the teachers and curriculum are the only things Britain should be focusing on, others have confidence that the learning environment plays a very vital role.

Will these new blueprints stifle not only students but also smart, effective designs and designers that are concerned with more than just saving money? Isn’t it possible to cut down costs without cutting out case-specific architectural choices that will improve and even revolutionize education? Where is the bigger picture and why are Gove and his team excluding those who could arguably best handle the problem?

References: The Guardian (123), The Centre for School DesignRIBABritish Department for Education

January 17 2012

17:12

Helping Teachers Stand Up for Science

The National Center for Science Education has added climate change to its mandate, offering teachers advice on how to counter pressure from school boards and parents to depart from the scientific consensus.

June 08 2011

12:12

From a Special-Ed Class, Solar Evangelists

A group of autistic students at a California high school are happily proselytizing for solar power in local elementary schools.

May 19 2011

20:40

As School Roofs Crumble, Toronto Finds Solar Solution

The city's school board will install solar panels on the roofs of schools and sell electricity to Ontario's government-owned utility.

April 29 2011

15:07
Finally, Buildings Are Going Net- Zero Water With Composting Toilets
Images credit the Bertschi School Water and sewage piping are the arteries and veins of our cities, requiring huge investment in infrastructure and maintenance. But have the technology both to collect and clean rainwater, and deal with human waste locally, to go "off-pipe" and it is beginning to happen. At Bertschi School in Seattle, the new Science wing has been built to meet Living Building Challenge standards, and is net-zero water and net-zero energy....Read the full story on TreeHugger

February 16 2011

14:00

Solar Panel Installer Certifications and Training Courses


Solar power has been emerged as a rapidly growing technology for home and business buildings. Since the new constructions are acquiring LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certificate and large number of house owners are trying to find the means to shrink their energy bills; hence the business of solar installation will enhance on continuous basis.

Solar Installation as Career

Solar Installation as Career

The individuals who are allowed to work as qualified installers are small. Besides that the demand for solar installation has increased. Hence, for those who are looking for an excellent future career; the solar installation can really be a nourishing career.

Solar Installation Certificate

One can acquire solar installation certificate through different means. For instance, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners is a panel of people from different professions who work on voluntary basis. These professionals are from the field of solar energy, education, trades and law makers. They are building a national certification program.

Entry Level Exam

The foremost requirement is to complete the coursework which is supplied by different companies other than North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. The beginners also have to pass the PV entry level exam. This is the primary step to develop into the NABCEP qualified PV Installer. After qualifying, their names will be listed in the directory of solar installers.

Solar Installation Training Programs

The complete details about various training program can be searched on the Internet. The IREC (Interstate Renewable Energy Council) is authorized body in North America for ISPQ (Institute for Sustainable Power Quality). This particular institute cultivates the principles and course of action to appraise training programs and other officially recognized programs.

Solar installer training can be acquired through different means. The online course modules are also available, but by and large these do not provide any practical knowledge. On the other hand, the technological or trade schools are normally imparting the practical knowledge for solar installation.

Community Colleges

In this regard, community colleges generally have an impartial method of teaching. Besides obtaining a college degree, the acquisition of solar installing certificate is gain knowledge about the techniques and ideology of solar installation.

Home Power Magazine

Solar Panel Installation

In the April/May 2010 issue of Home Power Magazine there was a very knowledgeable piece of writing, “Charting Your Solar Course”. This is specifically very useful or individuals who would like to adopt solar PV as their career.

This article also provides a comprehensive list of universities, community college and trade schools that are imparting education in solar panel installation.

Online Search for Solar Installer Jobs

If you try to find online about the starting level of solar installer jobs, you will also obtain a thorough knowledge about the demands and experience level that companies want in this field. Each of the state requires different education for the purpose of training, permits and licensing.

You may be able to acquire on job training in some fields for an authorized solar panel installer in few fields till the time you learn ample skill to pass exam for your own certification. If you search, what are the requirements for a learner or trainee, you will choose your study module in an apt manner.

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January 31 2011

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January 19 2011

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