Lotus School is a first in more ways than one….

The opening of the Lotus School in Blackpool is a first in more ways than one. It is the first purpose-built social environmental mental health school in the area. It is also the first in the area to be fitted with the first COVID-compliant hybrid ventilation.
The £4.5m project, funded by the Department of Education’s Free Schools Funds for Special Education Provision, was commissioned through self-delivery by Blackpool Local Educational Partnership and Eric Wright Special Projects, to achieve better value than arranging out-of-area transport for pupils who need special educational support. The Lotus School can accommodate up to 48 pupils with specific needs, with a mix of main classrooms, a science laboratory, feed technology lab, art & design rooms, sports/main hall and sensory rooms, as well as a life skills flat.
The main teaching classrooms and sports hall are all aired using Gilberts (Blackpool) Ltd’s innovative MFS hybrid ventilation units, installed by Read & Errington. In total, 24no MFS 128 units have been fitted through the two-storey façade into the classrooms, with a further three MFS-V roof-mounted units to the sports/main hall.
In addition to being the first stand-alone hybrid ventilation system designed, developed and manufactured in Britain (co-incidentally just up the road from Lotus School), Gilberts’ MFS is also the first of its type to be COVID-compliant as standard.
Since its launch, MFS has become the product of choice for ventilation in schools, combining natural ventilation with a heat exchanger to minimise energy wastage by extracting, via a low energy fan and mixing damper, the warmth from the ‘used’ internal air being exhausted and transferring it to the cooler fresh incoming air. By blending the incoming air, the low energy fan ensures an even distribution of airflow, with control over temperature and CO2 levels within, and maintenance of a comfortable internal environment for occupants.
MFS delivers 8l/s ventilation, exceeding as standard Government COVID requirements of 5l/s. As it is a stand-alone unit with no connections to other zones within the building, cross-contamination risk is almost eliminated.
Each unit also achieves relevant modulation (often a consideration for pupils with special needs): its operational ‘noise’ is less than 30dbA, and it has been engineered to absorb external noise to keep within the classroom criteria required by Department of Education Building Bulletin.
MFS-V incorporates two MFS128 units placed vertically into a rooftop penthouse turret, with a shaft up to 1500mm2 ensuring effective ‘stand-alone’ ventilation of the space below. No additional ducting or plant is required. By routing the ventilation through the roof then internal spaces that have no external façade or that have a large open floor area can still be efficiently ventilated, be it via natural or hybrid principles.
Stephen Knowles, head of special projects at Eric Wright, observed, “As a commercially focussed business with a social purpose, involvement in the Lotus School was especially important to Eric Wright, as it means local children with special educational needs can be taught in their home town, in a safe, stable environment. We were also keen to use local suppliers as far as possible. That Gilberts is based in Blackpool, and had developed market-leading ventilation technology, it was logical to use its products and expertise on this project.”
 
Full details of Gilberts’ MFS system can be found here: https://gilbertsblackpool.com/natural-ventilation-solutions/mistrale-mfs-fusion/. Alternatively, email sales@gilbertsblackpool.com or telephone 01253 766911.

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