Ventilation takes centre stage with Caterham School’s Performing Arts Centre

Ventilation takes centre stage with Caterham School’s Performing Arts Centre

When Caterham School in Surrey announced an extension to its facilities as part of the new Performing Arts Centre of Excellence (PACE) project, a good ventilation system was required to keep the space comfortable for students and staff.

The school expressed a need for comfort cooling in the theatre, especially given that numbers in the room could reach up to 120 people. However, the expansive space would also need to be efficiently heated in times of low occupancy, such as during rehearsals or lessons.

To combat the problem, building services and control specialists Kestrel Mechanical enlisted the help of ventilation specialists Elta Group Building Services (EGBS). EGBS suggested that ventilation could be supplied by allowing hot and cool air to mechanically flow into the building via an integral heat pump air handling unit (AHU). Following this recommendation, a Komfovent Verso-RHP-20 was installed. This helped to deliver volume flow rates per person as set out in Building Bulletin 101: Ventilation for School Buildings, while complying with CIBSE guidelines and exceeding the Government’s revised heat exchange efficiencies through the use of an integral thermal wheel. The system boasts an 81% efficient heat exchanger and a heat pump which runs at 60% efficiency.

As a retrofit to an existing flat roof which already housed an old AHU, the installation had clear space limitations. The Verso’s integral compressors eliminated the need for external heat pumps, external fridge pipework and electrical supplies. Guy Hammer, Senior Technical Specification Manager at Elta Group Building Services worked closely with Kestrel to ensure the positioning of the unit on the roof allowed the external and internal ducting to fit within the existing structure.

Phil Radley, Mechanical Design and Build Project Engineer at Kestrel Mechanical Services Ltd, commented: “By working closely with Guy, we ensured the unit was handled correctly and the design criteria was achieved post-construction — so the school could achieve the best results both in terms of efficiency and payback period. One example of this is the ‘night time purge’ or ‘free cooling’ mode, which helps to reduce the need to run the unit in cooling mode, helping us to save energy.

“The unit has been well received by everyone involved, including my director. The full commissioning service was a real benefit to this project as limiting downtime was key and it was great to see Elta Group Building Services getting involved on site.”

Guy Hammer added: “This project is an excellent example of how necessary and versatile good ventilation is. Schools often have issues with airflow and it is vital to ensure the correct airflow into a space in order for students to achieve optimum productivity.

“This project went very smoothly and we are delighted to have been involved. Following the success of this project, we are looking forward to working with Kestrel Mechanical in the future.”

The time pressures of working at a busy school site also meant ease of installation was key. The unit came pre-wired, only requiring connection to the mains electrical supply before being ready for use.

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