Sustainable design in the community

The highest environmental rating achievable in the UK, gained at a new youth and community building, is helping create a legacy for the 21st century – in part due to Passivent. The YMCA’s new George Williams Centre in Bridgwater is aiming to be the first community building in the South West to achieve BREEAM ‘outstanding’ accreditation.

Key to the energy efficiency of the £5m state of the art facility is the inclusion of natural ventilation, designed and supplied by Passivent.

The ventilation harnesses natural air movement principles of convection and the venturi effect through a combination of passive stack and cross ventilation strategies in the two-storey multi-use centre; the only electricity consumed is the little required to operate the motorised louvres and control panel to ensure appropriate fresh air flow into the building in line with the ventilation requirements laid down by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Passivent’s strategy uses roof level Aircool window units to act like a chimney, exhausting the used warm internal air. Fresh replacement air is drawn into the ground floor common room and first floor function room and break out rooms via low level louvres, with insulated wall-mounted louvres ensuring transfer of the fresh air into the atrium. The latter have been acoustically treated to minimise noise transfer from room to atrium and vice versa.

Intelligent control

The whole system is regulated by Passivent’s iC6000 intelligent multi-zone controller, which monitors internal and external temperatures and CO2 levels in each area, adjusting the louvres and thus airflow as required in each area to maintain the pre-set temperature and air quality levels. A push-button switch in each room enables occupants to over-ride the management system if required.

As it focuses on continuous natural air movement, the system works 24/7, providing free night cooling when the building is unoccupied, and ensuring a comfortable, fresh internal environment each morning.

Martin Hodgson, CEO for Bridgwater YMCA explained: “The previous centre was over 40 years old, and not sustainable in terms of operation and utilisation of space, so the decision was taken to build a bespoke facility that was the most efficient and appropriate building possible, which could be handed down as a legacy. The technology used throughout the development supports the ongoing sustainability of the YMCA as a provider of positive activities for young people.”

Named after the founder of the YMCA movement, the George Williams Centre includes a new sports hall with climbing wall, café and chill out zone, meeting rooms, ICT facilities, gym and fitness studio, community radio station and administration offices. It has been part-funded by the Big Lottery under its ‘myplace’ banner.

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