Some buildings present us with difficult heating issues, though correct evaluation of its structure and its needs can generate huge savings over time. Of course, the original use and age of a building will dictate how energy efficient the building structure is or can be e.g. buildings constructed after 1990 will be more energy efficient than those built before 1990.

Often a building will have shared usage, the requirements of one group of users might be very different to that of another. Comfortable temperatures for children, especially smaller children and the elderly, require around 21°C whereas more active groups such as keep fit enthusiasts and dance class participants need temperatures of around 18 ° C.

The ambient temperatures of rooms within a building may also vary dramatically, smaller rooms will heat more quickly, those that have an open aspect may benefit from sunshine, or may suffer in cold winds, depending on which side of the building they face.

Some rooms may be rarely used, others may be used to store items such as fabrics, that can suffer badly in damp environments. Condensation may be an issue, so in addition to heating, it may be important to consider adequate airflow. A list of ‘times of use’ and ‘nature of use’ is usually helpful and the importance of heat loss should be considered. Often the best solution to heating an area, is more concerned with insulation than heating alone.

Hallways, lobbies, fire exits, open fireplaces, lift shafts and hatches may all contribute to draughts. A correct appraisal of a building should include such considerations and appropriate action taken. Bricking up an old fireplace, putting draught excluders on doors etc. can all reduce energy usage.

Old windows, inadequate roof insulation, single skin brickwork and other building construction issues can also be remedied by replacement or addition of double-glazing or of new materials such as rockwool or insulation board.

If this article has whetted your appetite to learn more about heating community buildings, you will find more on the subject at Community Planning Net. There is a highly informative brochure called “ENERGY EFFICIENCY in community buildings” available for download at Community Planning: Energy Efficiency in Community Buildings. Additionally, the ChurchCare website (Church of England’s National Online Resource) has produced a ‘Guide for Choosing the Right Heating system’ which can be downloaded at Churchcare: Guide to choosing the right heating system.