Cool, smart engineering design makes school funding go further

State government funding announcements for new schools and upgrades typically receive a lot of media attention. With all the hype, it’s critical to look at how to stretch every project dollar so educators and students benefit most.
 
Structural Engineer Matthew Hart and Mechanical Engineer Robert Boland know a lot about schools, with Northrop having completed hundreds of such projects across NSW, ACT, Queensland and Victoria. 
 
“We have tackled sites in mine subsidence areas, varying geotechnical conditions including extremely reactive regional sites, cyclonic wind-affected areas, and adjoining heritage-listed buildings,” Matthew explained.
 
“Working closely with schools, educators, architects, builders and suppliers, we have developed unique solutions to overcome these challenges” Matthew said.
 
And this success, in part, is due to Northrop’s ability to purposefully co-ordinate multiple types of engineers to work on these school projects.
 
“We realised long ago the importance of providing a co-ordinated service across multiple disciplines,” Matthew said. “The role of a trained internal project co-ordinator has been a key part of our success, providing ‘behind the scenes’ co-ordination and value on our projects.”
 
As a Mechanical Engineer, Robert explained that Northrop has significant experience in traditional schools as well as new modern formats, requiring a range of engineering services.
 
“Traditionally, these services have extended to heating, ventilation, power, communications, security, water, and gas reticulation” Robert said.
 
“We are now seeing much more detailed and sophisticated systems such as air conditioning, energy monitoring, large solar arrays, and higher-level controls.”
 
Such innovations, according to Robert, deliver cost-effective and efficient buildings, which address both the initial capital cost and ongoing energy use, maintenance and replacement costs.   
 
Northrop’s engineers keep an eye out for innovative solutions for classrooms of the future. These include interlocked air-conditioning and lighting, controlled by motion sensors to limit run-time and reduce energy consumption.
 
“We understand the need to maximise comfort levels for improved learning outcomes” Robert said. “This can be broken down into thermal comfort, indoor air quality and acoustic comfort. The art of what Northrop provide is to weigh such outcomes against other preferences such as reduced operating and capital cost.”
 
From a structural engineering point of view, Matthew wants “to help deliver meaningful spaces for future generations”.
 
“Teaching methods are evolving, as is the traditional classroom. We understand this and can provide innovative solutions,” he said. “We provide simple solutions to difficult problems, by understanding client requirements, different funding models and delivering to budget.”
 
So, what makes Northrop the engineering go-to company for schools’ projects? The company’s immense industry experience, according to Matthew, and the sharing of knowledge amongst our experts has created a skill set within Northrop that is “second to none”.
 
“We have been successfully delivering school projects for over 40 years,” Matthew emphasised, “long before schools became the ‘hot’ new sector.”
 

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