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Breathing Buildings helps create 'perfect environment'

The company recently installed a ventilation system at a nursery and community centre in Hampshire

Posted by Julian Owen | March 29, 2018 | HVAC & lighting

Breathing Buildings, a provider of controlled hybrid ventilation systems, has supplied a natural ventilation system for YMCA East Anton Nursery and Community Centre. F1000 units were installed in the classrooms to provide fresh air and create a healthy indoor environment.

YMCA East Anton is a purpose-built nursery for 0-5 year olds which opened in October 2017. At an early design stage it was suggested that the classrooms should have mechanical ventilation systems, but YMCA had concerns about the energy use - as well as maintenance costs - associated with such a scheme. Breathing Buildings was approached by Darcy Construction to design a natural ventilation system that would be unobtrusive and provide high levels of ventilation.

Each classroom has its own toilet with a void above, initially intended to host a mechanical ventilation system and associated ductwork. The alternative, lower energy solution involved fitting an F1000 unit into each void to provide tempered fresh air. The balancing flow path is via a louvre and damper at high level. In cold weather, the F1000 system recycles the heat admitted through solar gain on the south-facing façade, together with the heat emitted by the children and carers, in order to pre-heat the incoming ventilation air. This allows a smaller heating system to be specified than would be possible with a traditional natural ventilation design. In summer, when the children are roaming in and out of the classroom and outside play area, the fresh air enters the rooms at low level via the doors or windows. It then flows across the space, providing much valued cross-flow ventilation, and exits out through the F1000 unit and high level damper.

Winter strategy

In winter when it is too cold to bring in fresh air straight onto occupants, the F Series system operates by drawing air in through a damper and into a mixing unit. The mixing unit uses two counter-rotating sweep fans; the lower fan draws in hot room air and the upper fan prevents this air from leaving the room. The cold fresh air entering the top of the mixing unit is thereby mixed with the room air, and the mixed air is discharged into the room.

Air is exhausted from the room by a damper on the same side of the building as the F Series unit in order to help avoid inflow through this damper. The control system and, critically, the draught mitigation strategy, use readings from a room temperature and CO2 sensor, as well as temperature sensors outside the building and within the F Series mixing unit.

Summer strategy

In warmer weather, when it is acceptable to bring fresh air straight onto occupants, the control system encourages room users to open windows at low level. The high level dampers are opened automatically and the system operates in upflow displacement, cross-flow ventilation mode. The damper openings are regulated by the control system in order to keep the interior at ideal comfort conditions.

At the end of the hottest days in the summer, the system automatically moves into a night-cooling mode. This mode ensures that the space continues to ventilate and benefit from the colder night time temperatures. The fabric of the building is passively cooled, alleviating the need to air condition the south facing nursery.

“Creating a comfortable, fresh and healthy indoor environment at low maintenance costs were the key factors mentioned in the project brief,” says Peter Oliver, Commercial Director at Darcy Construction. “Breathing Buildings’ natural ventilation design, using F1000 system, has provided well ventilated and energy efficient environment at low running costs, making it an ideal choice for the project.”

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