Specifier Review
Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership

Steeling the Spotlight in the Education Sector

As the government continues to set ambitious goals for the education sector, there is a growing demand to construct higher volumes of school buildings, at a faster pace and at a lower cost. But how can this be achieved?

With the demand for primary places beginning to feed through to secondary schools and the government’s rapid expansion of the private higher education sector, one thing is clear – many more schools are required to meet this demand.

But to meet the targets, considerations need to be given to the use of modern methods of construction. With only 63% of projects delivered on time and only 49% delivered to budget, traditional build fails to meet the major challenges facing the education sector. Offsite Construction and in particular light gauge steel, provides dramatically reduced build time and delivers education buildings at a lower cost – whilst not comprising on quality or whole-life performance.

Steve Thompson, Managing Director of EOS Facades explains why light gauge steel frame may just be the answer to the crisis facing the education sector.

Operating for over 10 years, EOS Facades has built a reputation for excellence in the design, manufacture and supply of a wide range of light gauge steel solutions, both component based and panelised. EOS Facades are currently working on a variety of educational facilities including schools under the Priority for School Building programme with Interserve and a further six schools with Kier Construction.



Offsite Construction

Offsite fabrication coupled with rapid onsite assembly makes steel a primary construction option.

Manufacture under factory-controlled, highly regulated conditions using the latest technology delivers precision engineered components. Steel can be custom manufactured to tight tolerances before delivery to site, enabling a quick assembly with zero waste. At EOS Facades the specialist design team work with the construction team to ensure that the steel frame design can be manufactured and erected safely and efficiently. The erection procedures can be planned accurately using BIM 3D models – minimising on site variability.

Light steel frame technology can add real value to a project as demonstrated on our recently completed work on the Amenities Building at The University of Nottingham. EOS offered a dramatically improved building programme through offsite manufacturing, ensuring the building was weather-tight rapidly to allow follow on trades to begin earlier and value-engineered the building design from blockwork to steel framing systems to reduce cost. Providing a fast-track offsite manufactured approach, meant the disruption to students and university staff was minimal.



Furthermore, capital costs were reduced due to value-engineering and a shorter programme time – removing an estimated 6% from the original capital cost budget and leading to a faster return on investment for the clients. EOS Facades recently won the ‘value’ accolade at the East Midlands Celebrating Construction Awards for their work on this project.

Health & Safety

Time and time again, industry surveys have proved steel frame to be the safest choice.

Steelwork contractors are highly skilled individuals, holding industry recognised qualifications. The continuous use of reliable and safe techniques significantly minimises the risk of onsite issues.

Health and safety considerations are key to installation on building sites. For example; dedicated lifting points on members and lifting brackets; support frames that allow mobile elevating working platforms (MEWPs) to be used on erected steelwork; edge protection attached at ground level prior to erection; the widespread use of nets for follow-on trades and offsite cutting of composite floor decking.

Furthermore, steel components can be pre-assembled or fabricated into modules either offsite or at low level, which reduces the need for working at height. Components or frames can be delivered to site as and when it is required, reducing the need for potentially hazardous on site storage.

The steel construction sector has a number of measures in place to ensure its continued exceptional H&S track record, including The Safety in Steel Construction (SiSC) health and safety advisory service; The BCSA Safe Site Handover Certificate (SSHC) and The Steel Construction Certification Scheme (SCCS) is UKAS accredited.

Vibration and acoustics

All structures are susceptible to vibration – no matter what material they are built from. Steel framed buildings are capable of meeting and exceeding strict vibration and acoustic performance criteria for the most demanding applications – that is one of the reasons steel is popularly used in vibration sensitive buildings such as schools. Steel-framed buildings can comfortably satisfy the acoustic performance requirements for educational buildings in accordance with Building Bulletin 93 – acoustic design of schools – performance standards.

The acoustic performance requirements of Part E of the Building regulations (The Approved Document E which details new acoustic performance requirements in England and Wales for residential dwellings, schools and other construction types) are easily met by steel framed buildings. However, robust detailing is required with any framing material to ensure compliance with Part E, including floor finishes, service penetration and flanking details.

For external walls, where both acoustic and thermal insulation is needed, infill steel-framed construction provides the ultimate solution. Insulation is provided within the frame, giving excellent thermal properties. In addition, infill solutions provide a robust wall with no gaps between the wall and main structure, which can be a problem with blockwork walls.



One of steel’s most notable benefits is its sustainable credentials, which is a key consideration as educational facilities strive to achieve lower carbon footprints and become more environmentally friendly.

A major benefit is a minimised impact on the environment. Light steel frame permits a fabric first design approach and optimises the building envelope. Steel is a long-term solution that is widely recycled at the end of life – providing minimum onsite waste and enabling a more sustainable future for the facility. Steel can be recycled again and again without any degradation in terms of properties and performance. Reuse of steel construction products offers even greater environmental advantage than recycling.

There is a reduced heating requirement in steel buildings ensuring lower emissions to the atmosphere. Thermal mass – the ability of a material to absorb heat energy is a key energy efficiency performance indicator. Steel framing heats up quickly – an important consideration as this will reduce the facilities heating bills without compromising on the wellbeing of the students.

Fire performance

Steel is non-combustible: it simply does not burn or contribute to the spread or intensity of a fire.

The performance of steel in fire has been researched more extensively than any other building material. Decades of research has been invested into understanding how steel reacts to fire. By comparison, relatively little is known about the performance of concrete structures in fire.

Simple and advanced methods are available for the analysis of composite steel deck floors in fire; these can lead to the elimination of fire protection on many secondary beams.

All of these positive fire characteristics further reduce the risk of fire during construction where many new education buildings are subjected to arson attack.


Independent studies consistently show that steel is the most cost-effective framing solution for multi-storey construction in the UK market.

Cost savings are made due to the speed of construction, the frame is installed very quickly once onsite. Which not only significantly reduces the building programme, it reduces disruption – which is vital during term-time.

Resource efficiencies are also achieved due to the reduced site labour requirement and follow-on trades brought onto site sooner – delivering time savings in the build programme. Time is money! Time savings can easily shave off between 3% and 5% of the overall project value.

Furthermore, the longevity of light steel frame minimises costs in the long term. Steel is highly durable and does not decay as quickly as other materials. This minimises the need for early refurbishment resulting in dramatically reduced repair costs down the line.

Steel offers maximum whole life value, buildings can also easily adapted, avoiding costly and environmentally harmful demolition or redevelopment and what’s more can be carried out with minimal disruption and cost.

Sector support

The UK steel sector provides an unmatched level of information, support and advice.

Extensive R&D is continuous and steel has arguably had the highest level of investment in terms of technical research and development compared to other construction materials. This has led to an extensive range of supporting information being readily available.

The steel sector maintains close relationships with universities and other educational and research institutions in the UK, supplying extensive teaching resources, providing bursaries, and sponsoring university academic posts.

Technical courses and seminars are provided by Tata Steel, the British Constructional Steelwork Association and Steel Construction Institute. EOS Facades also offer a free of charge CPD provided by Technical Manager Thomas Elliott (these can booked by calling 01325 303 030)– this presentation covers how Steel Structural Framing Systems can be used to create fast, easy to construct, inherently lightweight buildings that are adaptable to the client’s needs.

EOS Facades have worked on projects across all construction sectors, including education, healthcare, leisure, commercial and residential. Their portfolio of successfully completed projects and track record stretches back 10 years, so clients will benefit from a wealth of experience and expertise.

The EOS Facades product range includes:

  • Facade (Panels) – an innovative panel system which is fully engineered and assembled offsite in our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The fully engineered framed solution is designed to accommodate the fixing of any type of facade panelling or curtain walling system.
  • Facade (Stud & Track) – bespoke system, custom-manufactured to exacting requirements to meet our client’s needs. Suitable for all types of infill panels into primary framed hot rolled Steel and In-situ concrete framed buildings.
  • Flooring System – flooring systems range from lattice beam solutions to fully panellised flooring systems. Suitable for all types of load bearing floors from intermediate separating floors to bespoke mezzanine flooring solutions.
  • Roofing System – extensive roofing range from truss and flat-to-pitch roofing systems to providing ground-breaking ‘room-in-the-roof’ solutions.