Alex McDonald, indoor climate specialist at Zehnder Group UK, discusses how air quality and indoor climate can impact the learning environment and student success.

A poor indoor climate, and specifically bad indoor air quality (IAQ) has a demonstrably negative impact on students’ health, concentration, and overall learning experience, often leaving them feeling lethargic and struggling to focus.

Studies have shown a clear link between high CO2 levels and decreased cognitive function, especially in the afternoons, leading to drowsiness, headaches, and difficulty focusing. In the bustling environment of a school, effective ventilation is not just a matter of comfort, it’s essential for the academic performance and health of the children.

In many cases, inadequate ventilation can exacerbate asthma, allergies and – as emphasised by the pandemic – increase the risk of airborne virus transmission, further hindering student and teacher well-being.

Achieving an optimal indoor climate, with a focus on better air quality in educational settings however, presents unique challenges. These range from varying environmental factors, such as security and pollution, to the need for well-maintained ventilation systems across different areas, including classrooms, sports halls, food technology kitchens, and more. All have different objectives and need to be modelled to achieve optimum performance across the school setting.

Building Bulletin 101 (BB101) sets out regulations and guidance on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality for school buildings. It provides guidelines on minimum performance standards for schools but hitting the minimum shouldn’t be deemed as best practice.

Ventilation strategies in schools

Within school ventilation considerations, there are three main strategies deployed – Natural ventilation by opening windows, Hybrid ventilation using a mix of mechanical ventilation and natural ventilation, and finally Full Mechanical ventilation.

While acknowledging natural and hybrid ventilation systems, BB101 guidelines were drafted in a time with less stringent energy efficiency standards and a lesser focus on consistent indoor air quality.

Natural ventilation may appear to be a simple and cost-effective solution, but it has significant drawbacks. In winter, opening windows can lead to discomfort from cold draughts causing distraction and potential health implications for occupants inside. Rapid heat loss is also an issue, negating the efficiency of heating systems and costing the school precious pounds. Then in warmer months, opening windows for fresh air can lead to pollen and allergens infiltrating classrooms as well as excess heat.

Additionally, natural ventilation is impractical in areas with high noise pollution or poor outdoor air quality especially in urban areas or near busy roads, therefore failing to meet BB101 requirements for air quality and BB93 limits on noise pollution in classrooms.

These methods are also heavily dependent on weather conditions, including wind direction; if the wind is unfavourable it won’t deliver the necessary air movement within a room to provide optimal climate.

Hybrid systems, which combine natural and mechanical ventilation methods, attempt to bridge this gap but can be unreliable due to human error. These systems often rely on teachers manually opening windows, an easily forgotten task. Likewise, the inconsistent monitoring of pollutant levels can occur as teachers prioritise their lessons, often leading to dangerous CO2 spikes. Hybrid systems also struggle to maintain a consistent airflow due to the load they can produce, especially in larger classrooms with fluctuating occupancy.

For the best IAQ in schools, while still ensuring sustainability and energy efficiency, hybrid methods often fall short.

The move to mechanical

Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR), however, removes the guesswork and gives full control over the building’s climate. An MVHR system offers a comprehensive and sustainable air quality solution with several key advantages over alternative solutions, including consistent airflow, automatic CO2 level monitoring and adjustment, that all leads to improved occupant concentration. These benefits collectively lead to reduced absenteeism from student illnesses caused by airborne viruses.

The advanced heat recovery capabilities minimise energy and heat waste, ensuring efficient operation year-round. Precise air control with CO2 monitoring guarantees consistently improved air quality, regardless of external factors or occupant behaviour.

Mechanical ventilation systems come in two types, centralised and decentralised.

For smaller projects, decentralised ventilation units provide an ideal solution. Each unit operates independently, serving individual classrooms or spaces, ensuring optimal air quality with minimal disruption. Should a unit require maintenance or encounter issues, it affects only the corresponding room, mitigating downtime and inconvenience – this makes them well-suited for retrofitting older buildings or adding ventilation to new areas, without the need for extensive modifications.

Zehnder’s decentralised ventilation solution, the Zehnder Eversky®, is designed for educational settings. With highly efficient heat recovery capturing up to 90% of exhaust heat, it’s adaptable to room-specific needs, integrating seamlessly while operating quietly. This ensures a comfortable climate while meeting air quality standards.

In contrast, larger-scale projects benefit from centralised ventilation systems – offering centralised control and distribution of air through a connected air system network throughout the entire building. By connecting all supply and extract across a school, these systems ensure uniform air quality and temperature regulation, optimising energy efficiency and reducing operational costs.

This solution is particularly advantageous for new construction projects, where they can be seamlessly integrated into the building’s design.

Zehnder’s NeoTime and Carma commercial MVHR units are designed for easy plug-and-play installation. The control panel on the unit makes installation, configuration, and operation simple. These units can be installed both indoors and outdoors, with a factory-fitted weather protection roof. They ensure optimal air quality with high-quality filters and operate quietly thanks to double-walled, insulated panels with high-density thermal insulation.

The best indoor climate

Heat recovery through an MVHR ventilation system helps to retain the heat from the extracted air but general heating and cooling for schools still needs to be considered to create an overall comfortable climate all year round.

Traditional radiators are an excellent solution for standalone projects, perfectly suited for academic buildings and schools, the Zehnder Nova Neo radiator delivers comfort and heat faster than conventional radiators through its built-in fans offering short response times, integrated dust filters and heat pump compatibility the Nova Neo helps to ensure a clean and healthy environment. They are ideal for those not seeking integration into a wider heating and cooling system.

For those seeking an alternative or complementary option, radiant panels are a fantastic choice. Installed discreetly on the ceiling, they provide efficient radiant heating and cooling for any space, from classrooms to gym halls.

Radiant panels warm objects and surfaces directly, ensuring even heating and great energy efficiency. Their slim design and ceiling placement save valuable room space, and they do not pose a burn risk, making them safe for environments with children. Additionally, in the summer, these panels can help cool the room by circulating cooled water through the system.

Zehnder’s Alumline and ZFP radiant ceiling panels respond quickly to temperature changes, offering an energy-efficient solution using up to 40% less energy than traditional heating methods, while providing architectural flexibility. These panels integrate seamlessly into all types of lay-in ceilings, especially traditional grid ceilings common in schools. They feature a high-quality powder coating finish and a discreet design, ensuring long service life. Installation is straightforward, as they are lightweight and come ready to install with simple hydraulic connections.

For those embarking on new projects this summer break, such as school refurbishments, extensions, or new constructions, these solutions provide practical, energy-efficient and adaptable options. They enable a comfortable and conducive learning environment, while prioritising the health of both students and teachers. 

New Ideal Heating ECOMOD CO2 Commercial Heat Pumps take customers one step further towards net zero

The new ECOMOD CO2 monobloc air source heat pumps form part of Ideal Heating Commercial’s range of next generation natural refrigerant heat pumps released in 2024, featuring maximum flow temperatures up to 70°C.


As the name implies, natural refrigerants are those that occur naturally, as opposed to synthetically made. They have a low Global Warming Potential (GWP), making them the environmentally friendly option over their lifetime. In the case of ECOMOD CO2, which uses R744 natural refrigerant, the GWP rating is just 1, making them the ideal choice for customers with net zero commitments. An ultra-low GWP is both good for the planet and the pocket as high GWP refrigerants will only increase in price as they become scarcer.


ECOMOD CO2 heat pumps come in three outputs – 65kW, 95kW and 130kW – with even higher outputs possible when installed in a cascade arrangement, where up to six can be centrally controlled, operating from an intelligent lead controller. A high performing unit, they can operate at a design ambient temperature of -10⁰C, with a seasonal co-efficient of performance (CoP) rating of 3 or better. Furthermore, ECOMOD CO2 can achieve high temperatures up to 70°C, making them suitable for Domestic Hot Water (DHW) applications and district heating systems.


ECOMOD CO2 heat pumps are quiet in operation, but for absolute minimal background noise, a further model in the range – the CO2Q – benefits from a quiet noise level as low as a 71dB(A) rating.


ECOMOD CO2 and ECOMOD 290HT form Ideal Heating Commercial’s range of natural refrigerant heat pumps. As with all ECOMOD heat pumps, they can be installed alongside other Ideal Heating commercial solutions, including the market-leading Evomax 2 and Imax Xtra 2 commercial condensing boilers, to build a low carbon hybrid heating system.

Ideal Heating delivers commercial heating solutions that are

at the forefront of technology and developed in line with the

latest market trends and legislation.




A new ventilation with heat recovery option can achieve performance better than anything else on the market, meaning massive savings on energy bills.


MFS-HR is the concept of the UK’s leading independent commercial air movement specialist, Gilberts Blackpool, who was instrumental in pioneering hybrid ventilation with its core MFS unit. The latest evolution achieves up to 75% heat recovery- significantly better than other similar type systems.

That outstanding performance means that for a typical school, energy bills could be cut dramatically by recovering heat that would otherwise be wasted, whilst ensuring a indoor air quality compliant, well-ventilated space.

Gilberts’ dynamic MFS-HR will become, the company believes, the ‘go-to’ solution for net zero building services design, especially in educational establishments.

The ventilation performance is compliant with BB101 and the DFE Output Specification. Further, it avoids overheating in the building, being TM52 comfort compliant. And it is quiet- meeting BB93 guidelines even for special educational needs.



How it works


A stand-alone unit installed at high level through the building façade, MFS-HR utilises natural air movement to provide airflow to cool in warmer months; a low energy fan boosts supply and exhaust when needed to maintain the temperature and indoor air quality (IAQ). In colder conditions, the exchanger extracts heat from the exhaust air.

The heat is transferred to the cooler incoming air via the exchanger. Separate chambers for supply and return air avoids the risk of cross contamination and ensures the incoming air is COVID safe. An external louvre simultaneously draws fresh air in and exhausts the used air: options include exposed (mounted in the room) or concealed (ducted above the ceiling); louvres either fitted into the brickwork, window frame or glazed into the window.

CLICK HERE for full details of MFS-HR, including technical and performance data








Hamworthy Heating, a trusted British manufacturer and supplier of commercial heating and hot water products, is pleased to announce the introduction of its new Stratton mk3  wall-hung condensing boiler, which provides a compact and efficient heating solution for plant rooms with limited space.

Offering outstanding efficiency, the latest addition to the Hamworthy range of commercial boilers features a 5:1 turndown ratio, excellent low-class 6 NOx emission across all mStratton mk3 models, and up to 97% gross seasonal efficiency.

Designed for simple installation and maintenance, the new Stratton mk3 features a small and lightweight design, making it a fitting solution for plant rooms where location and space present a challenge.

To illustrate this, Hamworthy recently joined forces with Tucker Mechanical & Electrical Building Services to provide a charity with a much-needed space-saving and efficient space-heating solution. Following a site visit to the Hull and East Yorkshire Centre for the Deaf, Tucker Mechanical & Electrical Building Services identified that moving to the Hamworthy Stratton mk3 wall-hung condensing boiler system would provide the building with a space-saving alternative to its previous floor-standing unit. Installed on an internal frame, this allowed space to fit additional pump equipment and a plate heat exchanger for hydraulic separation to preserve the internal boiler components.

Following the upgrade, Hull & East Yorkshire Centre for the Deaf now benefits from a reliable and energy-efficient stainless steel boiler system which has enabled the charity to reduce its carbon footprint, lower fuel bills, and make additional savings on future maintenance and servicing.

Incorporating the latest stainless steel heat exchanger technology, the new Stratton mk3 offers exceptional system tolerance. Available in seven different models with outputs from 40 to 150kW, single units can also be cascaded to meet building demands or larger installations more effectively.

The Stratton mk3 is available with a range of easy to install AHRI certified® plate heat exchangers designed to enhance energy efficiency and performance. Compact and lightweight, the range includes 316 stainless steel plates with copper brazing for maximum durability. A full range of frame and header kits and accessories to support system design are also available from the Hamworthy Heating range.

Fully compliant with Building Regulations Part L, the Stratton mk3 is supplied with a market-leading 5-year warranty as standard from Hamworthy Heating (terms and conditions apply).

To mark the arrival of the latest range, Hamworthy Heating has released its new ‘Stratton mk3 Wall Hung Condensing Boiler’ range brochure. Split into clear, concise, and easy to read sections, the 20-page brochure includes a comprehensive product overview and technical specification guide.




Hamworthy Heating, a trusted British manufacturer and supplier of commercial heating and hot water products, is pleased to announce the introduction of its new Dorchester DR-SG range of stainless steel condensing water heaters with enhanced durability and large continuous outputs.

The Dorchester DR-SG is available in ten power outputs over three storage capacities and features a durable stainless-steel tank, heat exchanger and coil for enhanced performance, efficiency, and increased service life.

Suitable for both renovation and new build projects, including locations with substantial and continuous hot water demands such as hotels and sports facilities, the Dorchester DR-SG meets all of the latest Building Regulations and offers significantly improved efficiency and performance when replacing a non-condensing water heater.

Featuring a robust design, the Dorchester DR-SG is designed to offer outstanding performance under challenging water conditions and cope with the extremities of soft and hard water.

Incorporating a user-friendly design, Dorchester DR-SG water heaters are operated via the popular Siemens LMS mini controls platform. Featuring an intuitive digital control panel with a clear backlit LCD and a scroll wheel to navigate between different setting screens, LEDs are also incorporated into the user interface to enable quick and easy identification of any potential faults.

Designed to fit through a standard 800mm doorway with a narrow diameter of 80cm (excluding 538 models), the latest range is significantly light for its class, enabling straightforward transportation and installation.

Suitable for retrofit into a vast number of installations due to being approved for multiple flue system types, all Dorchester DR-SG models are convertible to run on LPG.

Building on the success of its popular water heater range, the Dorchester DR-SG is supplied with a five-year warranty on the tank and a two-year warranty on the components. For full details of warranty terms and conditions or to discuss the range of tailored packages available, details are available from Hamworthy Heating on request.


OR CALL 01202 662 552



Passivent’s comprehensive range of Aircool® wall and window ventilators offers solutions across a wide variety of sectors, providing controlled air intake and extract in natural ventilation systems to create healthy internal environments.

The Passivent Aircool range comprises four core products to give specifiers the full spectrum of solutions and meet the individual requirements of any project. Primarily suited for external installation, the Aircool is designed to work with all forms of wall construction, curtain walling and window profiles with the external weather louvre providing excellent weather protection and an insulated internal damper which minimises heat loss.

Passivent Aircool is designed to be a highly flexible product which can form part of a natural or mechanical ventilation strategy and with its electrically-actuated low-voltage dampers, it is virtually silent in operation. It is particularly suitable for use as part of a night cooling strategy, where daytime heat build-up is dissipated from the structure via the Aircool during the night, producing lower internal air temperatures with a reduced need for daytime cooling or air conditioning.  As well as the standard Passivent Aircool option, Passivent also offers an Acoustic Aircool® Ventilator with additional acoustic attenuation features plus its Thermal Aircool® Ventilator with a heater coil to temper the temperature of the fresh incoming air during cooler weather. The hybrid air-mixing variant – Hybrid Plus2 Aircool – combines the features of the Aircool with an innovative air tempering and mixing unit. It has three distinct operating modes to satisfy cool and warm conditions – passive, cooling and mixing.  Designed primarily for use in a single-sided ventilation strategy, the Hybrid Plus2 Aircool meets Building Bulletins 101 and 93 for use in the education sector, but is equally suited to general commercial applications. Building Bulletin 101 is ‘Guidelines on ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality in schools’ and Building Bulletin 93 is ‘Acoustic design of schools: performance standards.’

The whole range is manufactured by Passivent to ISO 9001, and has been rigorously tested to ensure it provides superior thermal insulation and excellent airtightness as well as meeting weather resistance requirements. It is also suitable for modular construction making it a great all round ventilation solution.  Passivent’s experienced technical team is on hand to help match the right Aircool with the specific requirements of each project as well as providing support with bulk airflow calculations or thermal modelling.

All products within the Passivent Aircool  range are also available as BIM objects for ease of specification.

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Ysgol Tir Morfa Community School in Rhyl, North Wales, is an additional learning needs school for boys and girls aged from 3 to 18. The school is split across three areas, with the newest part now being heated by two Ideal Heating 32kW ECOMOD monobloc air source commercial heat pumps.


Becoming carbon neutral

In 2019, Denbighshire County Council voted to become a carbon neutral council by 2030. The council identified that in the financial year 2021/22, its own buildings accounted for 62% of direct corporate carbon emissions. As a result, it has been assessing all its properties for opportunities to decrease carbon emissions, with a move away from fossil fuel based heating being a top priority.

As a relatively new build with underfloor heating already in place, Ysgol Tir Morfa was identified as a property that could easily transition to heat pumps. As installer Gareth O’Loughlin of GGS Heating comments: “When it comes to putting in the air source heat pumps, it’s just a straight conversion; there’s no heating alterations. It’ll work at the temperatures designed with the system that we’ve got.”


ECOMOD Heat Pumps

Two Ideal Heating 32kW ECOMOD monobloc air source heat pumps have been installed immediately outside the boiler house running in cascade into a 500 litre buffer.

Heat pumps, which utilise the free energy in the air to heat water, have many benefits including an efficiency of up to 400% which is more than traditional boilers, and zero local carbon emissions.

The ECOMOD air source heat pumps come with a minimum A++ Energy related Products (ErP) efficiency rating and high co-efficient of performance (COP) rating of up to 4.85. R32 refrigerant ensures a low global warming potential (GWP).


Offsetting costs with renewables

Denbighshire County Council’ Property Section Energy Team is responsible for the work to reduce carbon emissions from council buildings, as well as increasing the amount of renewable energy installed in Denbighshire.

When the team looked in-depth at heat pumps, they understood that the unit cost of electricity is more expensive than gas, but knew they could offset this with renewable energy, to make it a lot more economical. As a result, two separate solar photovoltaic arrays (solar PV) have been installed at the school along with a 10.2kW solar PV battery to store any excess generation.



 As part of the support offered to Denbighshire County Council for this installation, Ideal Heating is providing local company GGS Heating with training to enable them to successfully install heat pumps, thus upskilling the local supply chain.

Gareth O’Loughlin of GGS Heating has been pleasantly surprised by just how easy it has proven:

“Installing the ECOMOD heat pumps has been generally no different to installing the system with gas boilers. They both work in generally the same way. It’s just how the heat is derived that’s the difference from the gas. I’d definitely recommend Ideal products and their commercial side of it especially. We’ve had nothing but help. We’ve always found them easy to work with and the technical teams helpful.”


Reduced carbon emissions and more

Denbighshire County Council is pleased with the new heating system in operation at Ysgol Tir Morfa, which takes them one step further forward in their journey to become carbon neutral.

Cllr Barry Mellor, Lead Member for Environment and Transport at Denbighshire County Council is enthusiastic over the project:

“It’s been absolutely brilliant. I hadn’t seen heat pumps before. Seeing them work here, knowing that this is going to give us heating for the school, and being able to store the electricity from the roof so it doesn’t go to the grid, it is ideal.”





By Bill Sinclair, technical director, Adveco.

The most consistent issue we see in school hot water systems is oversizing, whether through a lack of understanding of application design or concerns over providing suitable backup to ensure system continuity. The result of oversizing is however always the same, unnecessary capital costs for system supply, installation and ongoing excess operational costs associated with higher energy demands and therefore greater carbon emissions.  As schools plan to adopt greener building operations, replacing old gas-fired systems with like-for-like electric is another guaranteed way to gain an oversized system, but can also lead to undersizing if storage is not large enough to account for low, slow heating associated with heat pump based electric systems. Getting that balance right is critical as per kW price of electricity remains much higher than that of gas. Plus, if not optimised, the system will generate excess capital costs in terms of size and number of water heating appliances and complexity of installation. That in turn can also become more time-consuming and disruptive, a cause for concern if refurbishment work is scheduled into the narrow window afforded by the school holidays. More importantly, if the new electric system is oversized the required amperage could exceed a building’s available electrical supply. Bringing new supply in means excavating, possibly as far as the substation, which will see cost soar, or even stall the project.  This can best be avoided by collecting live onsite data. A valuable, non-invasive, and low-cost exercise, it should be undertaken to assess actual usage, including time and duration of peak demands which is critical for correct sizing. When assessing a school’s domestic hot water (DHW) usage, it is important to also establish basic information on energy sources, be they gas or electric, planned use of renewables such as heat pumps or solar thermal and the level of system redundancy and backup. This helps steer the design of the replacement system.

This approach has already been applied to several public sector sites in the UK where there is a strong impetus from the government for properties to be rapidly decarbonised in line with net zero strategies. Data collected by Adveco has enabled our application design team to provide recommended alternatives that avoid common issues arising from oversizing.

One recently assessed dormitory site was operating two 50kW output gas-fired water heaters and a pair of 140 kW boilers. Replacement plans included making use of two additional electric boilers with an air source heat pump (ASHP) to heat the building. Live metering indicated that the property exhibited an average daily usage of 1793 litres with a maximum daily recorded usage of 2407 litres, averaging out to 2003 litres. The single peak, spread between 7 am and 10 am, was contrary to the perceived dual morning and evening peak. With a long, low single morning peak the theoretical design day hot water consumption was established at 2789 litres.

On this basis, with a 20% uprate added to ensure extraordinary peak demands would be accommodated in the system design, requirements can be met by a 24kW electric system with 250-litre storage. This assumes 40°C preheat feed from the air source heat pump, 63°C storage and supply at 60°C. The recommendation was for a 500L twin coil cylinder, with the bottom half preheated by the ASHP and the top half heated by a 24kW electric boiler, such as Adveco’s ARDENT. The storage cylinder is derated by 50% as only the top half is guaranteed to store water at a usable 60°C.  A smaller boiler could be specified and would cope as well, but without the ASHP preheat the full 24kW would be required ramping up operational costs.

The new system will have an estimated annual consumption of 616,564 litres. With an estimated 16,544 kWh thermal energy demand for the year, carbon emissions fall from 8340 kg/annum for the gas-fired system to 3250kg/annum for the new electric heated system. A carbon reduction of 5090 kg/annum. However, annual electric running costs, despite a 25-35% offset in energy from the heat pump, would be an estimated £2813, compared to lower-priced gas costs of £689.

Replacing gas-fired water heating with an electric system still has several cost implications. Correct sizing with metered data can reduce the costs of purchasing and installing new hardware, potentially saving tens of thousands of pounds depending on the scale and complexity of the DHW application. Excavation works to bring in increased electric supply though can quickly raise project costs to anything as high as £500,000 if in a city location! So optimising designs to avoid this is critical.  Operational costs do however climb and will continue to do so while grid electric prices remain much higher than those of gas grid supplies. The application of renewables including heat pumps and solar thermal can reduce, but not completely offset those direct electric costs.

The advantage is clearly defined in the reduction of carbon emissions, and, as work continues to decarbonise the electricity grid, the emission reduction figures supplied in the new system design should improve considerably, adding further environmental value to the system over the course of its operational lifespan. Decarbonisation of hot water still comes with implicit operational costs. Metering helps to clarify this and put a real number on the ledger that can be factored into a school’s decarbonisation strategy.



The IAQ multi-sensor from Siemens Smart Infrastructure offers a key contribution to room automation with a simple insight into room conditions that helps to prioritise indoor air quality and create a healthy and productive environment.

The sensor tracks seven key environmental factors in a single wall-mounted unit: fine dust (PM2.5), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon dioxide, relative humidity, temperature, light and noise (dBA). The IAQ offers the same level of accuracy as individual room sensors, with an intuitive colour indicator to identify air quality status. Transparency in air quality is further ensured through an easy-to-read LED display, with a simplistic design that offers clear and quick indication of air conditions. This simplicity is carried through to the touch-sensitive buttons which allow easy scrolling through the sensor’s parameters.

The unit assists building owners and operators in meeting a range of environmental building regulations and certification requirements including WELL, RESET, LBC, FITWEL and LEED.

In addition to monitoring the air quality, the noise sensor (no recording) can detect the number of people in a meeting room.


Studies have shown that poor ventilation can account for more than 50 percent of all sick leave with poor air quality also perceived to reduce work performance by over 9 percent. The IAQ is one of a range of products from Siemens designed to optimise indoor air quality which is some 2.5 times more polluted than typical outdoor air. This range also includes Connect Box, an open and easy-to-use IoT solution which manages small to medium-sized buildings and can be simply connected to operate with the IAQ via wireless or wired protocols (BACnet and LoRaWAN).

Ease of installation is ensured through the sensor being suitable for use with most commercially available recessed conduit boxes.

Working together, the IAQ multi-sensor and Connect Box offer a highly efficient monitoring solution to increase health and comfort in small to medium-sized buildings without the need of a BMS system.

CLICK HERE For further information on Siemens Building Products


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Leading natural and hybrid ventilation solutions manufacturer Passivent recently played its part in the creation of a specialist school located in Sunderland, providing a comprehensive range of its high-performance natural ventilation products, tailored for the SEND environment with the whole building in mind.

Passivent provided Sunningdale School with its unique thermal acoustic Aircool® window ventilators, Litevent Airstract® rooflight/ventilators and Airscoop® roof ventilation terminals which were used throughout the school in classrooms, corridors and halls.  Working closely with Sunderland City Council at the early design stage, Passivent proposed the use of a natural ventilation strategy which would not only provide effective cross ventilation in the classrooms but one which would also reduce noise pollution during operation – a critical consideration for a SEND environment.  By utilising natural ventilation, the school will also benefit from reduced energy usage without the need for mechanical fans.
Two of Passivent’s thermal acoustic window Aircool units were installed vertically in each classroom for the fresh air intake. These units allow the incoming air to be warmed via heater coils, with acoustic baffles helping to minimise the noise. The used air is then exhausted at the back of the classroom at a slightly higher level through the two standard window Aircool units installed horizontally.

A number of Litevent Airstract rooflight/ventilators were also specified and installed along the school’s corridors, with the roof lights providing a great source of natural daylight and the Airstract terminal function in this combined unit providing controllable natural ventilation. Passivent’s Litevent system reduces the need for artificial lighting thereby reducing further energy consumption.  Installed in both the dining and main hall are multiple Airscoop roof ventilation terminals which ventilate the large open spaces, providing fresh air whilst displacing any stale used air. The Airscoop has an optimised segmented design that delivers maximum airflow capacity and its patented double bank louvres provide Class A 100% rain rejection so that the building can be fully ventilated regardless of weather conditions.

To easily control the entire ventilation system, which is split into 21 zones, Passivent’s iC8000 Controller has been installed with seven panels in four different locations across the school. These will be used to modulate the natural ventilation system, monitoring carbon dioxide levels as well as internal and external temperatures to ensure an optimal learning environment at all times.  Sunningdale School is the only school of its kind in Sunderland, specialising in teaching children with severe and multiple learning difficulties aged between 2 and 11. The £13.3 million new build, which was designed with specialist therapy provisions including nine sensory rooms, opened its doors in September 2022 as part of Sunderland City Council’s £45 million programme to update schools that deliver life-changing facilities for young people.

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Balancing effective natural ventilation with reduced noise pollution poses specifiers with a challenge, but leading product manufacturer Passivent has the perfect solution in the form of its patented SoundScoop® acoustic air transfer unit.


Passivent’s SoundScoop offers superior natural ventilation whilst simultaneously reducing sound transfer between noisy and noise-sensitive areas thanks to its patented internal lining and ribbed design. It has been designed in association with Arup in a collaborative approach to acoustic design, natural ventilation performance and product development.

The innovative design of the SoundScoop system allows air to pass through freely whilst sound waves are reflected and absorbed by the unit’s lining. The system targets mid-frequency sounds such as speech and footfall, helping eliminate noisy distractions and providing greater privacy.

The combination of low airflow resistance with high-performing acoustic attenuation, provides greater crossflow ventilation between internal spaces of buildings, allowing more schemes to adopt a natural ventilation system without the worry of excessive noise travelling from room to room. The SoundScoop system is particularly suited for education, residential and hotel projects, as well as commercial environments that are adjacent to noisy spaces, such as cellular offices, as it can reduce speech noise levels by up to 50%.

SoundScoop has been tested for acoustic performance and complies with BB93 (Acoustic Design of Schools – a design guide), Priority Schools Output Specification for Acoustic Design, BS8233 (Sound Insulation and Noise reduction for Building Code of Practice) and Building Regulations Part F (Ventilation). The system boasts a lightweight design, with units ranging from 3kg to 18.3kg for ease of both installation and transportation, and with a variety of different sizes available, is ideally suited to a range of different applications.


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