Article 3 - Natural ventilation in the UK

Natural ventilation in the UK

In my last article, I suggested that architects and designers worldwide, certainly those practising in countries and regions which are appropriate, are often astonished to discover that it is possible to work with Natural Ventilation over large areas of a building for the greater part of the year.  These days, so much focus on energy, such as saving on air-conditioning, is one of the main drivers for this awakening. There is also the added benefit, not always appreciated, of more useable floor area and building space.

So, as a good example, let’s look at the UK whose experience of natural ventilation actually predates many Western countries.  One of the best ways to do this is to harness the experience of people at the sharp end, the distributors who service and provide the products and have an important job selling the benefits to architects, engineers, developers and building owners.

In this case, the focus is of the large UK distributor SE Controls and to make our review that much more interesting, here’s mention of three quite different buildings – a new university design centre, supermarket and large office.  These projects show how natural ventilation embraces virtually every type of building.

tl_files/Naturalventilation/bilder-content/articles/East-Park-Loughborough_kl.jpg  East Park Loughborough-Image provided by SE Controls

Design students at the well-known Loughborough University are now being cocooned in superior comfort by an integrated natural ventilation system which ensures that carbon dioxide is kept in check and high levels of air quality are maintained.  Here, over 400 chain actuators were installed on the first three floors to control high level vents in laboratories, offices and study areas as well as in the school’s workshops and computer room. Automatic louvres are also installed in the public areas and meeting rooms.  All are seamlessly linked to the building management system (BMS) to maximise energy efficiency.

tl_files/Naturalventilation/bilder-content/articles/TESCO_supermarkt_kl.jpg  TESCO-Image provided by SE Controls

Providing a safe and comfortable environment for shoppers and staff in the Manchester branch of Tesco, one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK, was also a priority.  In normal day-to-day mode, the natural ventilation system constantly monitors the temperature in each zone.  When triggered the vents initially open by 10% and can continue up to 50% of their full opening capacity. They will also close in increments of 10% until the internal temperature reaches 21degC.  In the case of rain and high winds, they will activate automatically while at night they can open 30 degrees to purge the building’s thermal mass.  

In smoke ventilation mode, the vents open to 87degrees and are hinged on opposing sides of the store to optimise operation and maintain safety even in high winds. There is also a separate battery back-up system should a power failure occur.

tl_files/Naturalventilation/bilder-content/articles/A2N_113198_Buero_kl.jpg  Ordnance Survey-Image provided by SE Controls

The ordnance Survey HQ in Southampton UK is one of a growing number of office buildings, large and small, which meet high levels of energy saving. Here, a STG natural ventilation solution was specified to work in conjunction with other low energy systems.  This is what ultimately contributed towards to the building being awarded a BREEAM (similar to the North American LEED) ‘Excellent’ rating.

Natural ventilation is provided by actuator operated top hung windows on each of the three floors together with six ‘chimneys’ within the office complex.  These vertical ducts expel stale air from the atrium and floors while fresh air is drawn in through the windows.  By using temperature and Co2 zone sensors, windows can be automatically and precisely opened to provide optimum levels of fresh air.  The whole system is integrated within the BMS so that heating, cooling and lighting work together in the most effective way to ensure the lowest possible energy consumption.

The UK’s Ordnance Survey Headquarters, Adanac Drive, Southampton SO16 0AS is the focus of a new case study on this website.

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