UK’s first duct cleaning training centre opts for energy recovery ventilation

When duct cleaning specialist, Hasman, relocated to Liverpool in order to create the industry’s first dedicated training centre, the company’s long-term aim was to lead from the front when it came to ventilation best practice. Having converted a dilapidated warehouse into a purpose-built training centre and office on the Sandon Way Industrial Estate, the company identified the need to improve air quality and recover heat in order to ensure a comfortable environment for its growing workforce.

For Hasman, the launch of the Building Engineering Services Association’s (BESA) Ventilation Hygiene Technician apprenticeship is a cause for celebration. The course, along with four others, is the result of years of campaigning by Hasman and the wider duct cleaning industry to formalise their trade. It is a particularly significant development for Hasman, as the company’s new, purpose-designed facility in Liverpool is one of only three BESA approved providers of the new courses.

Meeting the needs of a growing workforce

The Hasman training centre and offices are located in a 5,700 sqft warehouse. Having started with a staff of just two, demand for its training courses and duct cleaning services has seen it expand rapidly to a full-time staff of six, with between 20 and 30 students undertaking courses every month. The confirmation of the latest BESA courses is likely to see the number of students per month increase to as many as 70 to 80, with new, full-time jobs created as a result.

Up until recently, the sole source of both heat and air quality to the 1,500 sqft office, within the warehouse, was electric heaters and air purifiers, but increased staffing numbers began to make an impact on the working environment, as Jack Friend, Hasman Managing Director, explains:  “Over the last three years the business has grown rapidly from a staff of just two to six people in the office full time, plus an office dog. Without additional ventilation we were really suffering. CO2 was going through the roof and complaints about the cold led to us purchasing electric heaters, which in turn made the atmosphere really stuffy and uncomfortable. Hot temperatures in the summer created their own problems, as being on an industrial estate in close proximity to a sewage treatment plant, meant opening the doors to let extra air in wasn’t really an option.”

Improving air quality and reducing heating requirements

For Jack, the installation of additional ventilation would serve two purposes; improve the working environment for staff, but also demonstrate best practice to his students. Jack says: “As a training centre, we wanted to set the bar high for effective ventilation, so having looked at the regulations we were keen to achieve the best possible level of indoor air quality for our employees. Fortunately, recent changes to the regulations and latest technology has worked in our favour in that regard, as the regulations now look at air movement per person, rather than room size, and enhanced control means that adjustments can be made based on occupancy.”

It’s at this stage that Jack contacted Marcus Sawkins, Head of Service Department at air conditioning and ventilation specialist Scubair, who recommended the use of a PREMA330 Heat Recovery Unit from Air Design, part of Elta Group.

Marcus comments: “For Hasman there was a clear need to reuse waste heat to reduce energy consumption, as well as to improve air quality. From my conversations with Melissa Goodman at Elta, I’d been made aware of a new heat recovery offering, which had been specifically designed to boost indoor air quality in line with the latest standards and requirements, including the Ecodesign Directive and Part L of the Building Regulations.”

Marcus continues: “The PREMA heat recovery unit unit works through a crossover that allows the filtered fresh air coming in to be treated by the hot air from the office via temperature transfer. It’s free heating essentially, as you’ve already spent your money on warming the air in the first place. In the case of Elta, the large surface area of the PREMA unit’s counterflow heat exchanger results in 92% efficient thermal energy recovery. As a result, the energy savings are considerable, particularly for Hasman where there is a reliance on portable electric heaters.”

Training

As well as improving air quality and comfort for staff and students, Hasman had a secondary objective for the new heat recovery unit, as Jack explains: “Up until recently there were limited training options available to duct cleaners. Often it was down to business owners to ensure workers were able to undertake the work, with much of the training taking place on live sites and, other than years of experience, no way for workers to demonstrate their abilities to employers. With the range of new courses announced by BESA and the establishment of our training centre here in Liverpool, that is thankfully no longer the case. At the same time, we’re extremely keen for operators to test their skills on live equipment, so this was also a consideration when we commissioned Scubair to install the heat recovery unit.”

For Marcus, this was a secondary driver for specifying the Elta unit and had an impact on the installation, as he explains: “Hasman provides training for duct cleaners from all over Europe and as far afield as Malaysia. It’s important to Jack that his students get to train on the equipment that they’re likely to encounter out in the field. The use of heat recovery units has grown substantially across Europe and we’re seeing increased demand here in the UK, particularly when it comes to flats. As a result, we wanted to ensure that students got to train on the latest systems. We also took a different approach to the Hasman system setup, installing extra ducting, with more access points to aid training. This meant that the heat recovery unit is suspended eight feet above the office ceiling. The fact is, however, the unit is so slim and compact that it could easily fit within the typical 450mm ceiling void that you would find in most buildings. It’s also extremely quiet, meaning you’re highly unlikely to hear it during operation in an office or domestic environment.”

The PREMA330 Heat Recovery Unit has primarily been installed to serve the existing office space as well as, expanded rear offices and the front reception area. Working with Scubair and Elta Hasman is also looking to add to the ventilation system with the introduction of a further PREMA 330 Heat Recovery fan to serve the hallway and toilets as well as an air conditioning unit that will provide heating and cooling for the whole of the office.

For further details on Elta Group Building Services’ wide range of HVAC products, please visit egbuildingservices.co.uk

0