Passivent helps create selfsustaining learning environment

An ‘extraordinary’ resource is providing ‘state of the art’ facilities for pupils and the local community in a Somerset village, with a natural approach from Passivent Ltd.

The 200 years-old Grade II listed Sidcot School has invested £4m in the creation of its Arts Centre, to replace outdated facilities with a new teaching and performance complex that optimises sustainability. Not only does the building incorporate as many sustainable strategies as possible to create a healthy learning environment, but it will be used by external organisations to become selfsustaining.

One of the key elements of the environmental sustainability is the inclusion of natural ventilation, specifically designed for the project by Passivent Ltd, with financial investment from the school, to accommodate not only the building design but its location alongside the A38- the longest trunk road in England.

The Passivent ventilation harnesses the physics of natural air movement, of pressure and temperature, similar to how a chimney functions. Warm internal air rises naturally; higher external air pressure moving across the roof draws the ‘used’ internal air out of the building through strategically placed terminals. At Sidcot, acoustically treated Passivent Aircool units provide ventilation at low level (ground floor), drawing fresh air into the classrooms whilst attenuating noise penetration from the adjacent A38 to optimise student concentration and learning. Bespoke ‘periscope’ wall units to the first floor allow the fresh air to enter the space, where the ‘used’, warm air is extracted via a combination of high level wall Aircool units and two roof-mounted Airstract units.

The units are all connected to Passivent’s multizone central controller, configured to provide 8 zones, so the school can monitor and control ventilation according to external temperature, internal CO2 levels and operate a night cooling strategy. The only electricity consumption is to occasionally attenuate louvres to control inlets and extracts, and using the control system.

As the forces driving the system are naturally present, the Passivent system functions 24/7. This also provides effective, ‘free’, night cooling: internal and external temperatures have a higher variance at night, increasing convection and removal of surplus heat gain within the building, and helping ensure a pleasant, fresh environment within the next day whilst reducing incidence of ‘sick building syndrome’.

Rob Barnes, director of HBS Architecture who were responsible for designing the new centre, observed, “Natural ventilation was considered an integral part of the overall design to provide a ‘healthy’ learning environment. As the new complex is located alongside the A38, traffic noise was a major consideration at the design stage, hence the decision to include acoustic attenuation. Natural Passivent ventilation is included throughout all teaching spaces, with other sustainable strategies including natural recyclable materials, and extensive use of natural light.”

Sidcot School Estates Bursar Hilary Atkin added, “The stunning Arts centre is not only an extraordinary resource for the school but for our surrounding communities.”

Passivent ‘commercial’ natural ventilation systems are proven in real life to be one of the strategies to attain up to an A rating under the new Energy Performance Certificate. It reduces energy consumption over air conditioned buildings by up to 50%, yields 15% savings on capital costs, 75% savings on maintenance costs, and eliminates the need for a separate plant room: in one installation the Passivent system is being calculated at reducing energy demand by up to 80%!

This performance enables the systems’ qualification for credits under the BREEAM verification system (often helping buildings to achieve at least a ‘very good’ rating) and towards achievement of Building Regulations Approved Document L (Conservation of Fuel & Power).

They also help attain compliance with both Building Bulletin 101- Ventilation for Schools and Building Bulletin 93- Acoustic Design for Schools, and meet DCSF schools capital design team report ‘Impacts of the School Environment on Children’s Health & Wellbeing’. Schools in which Passivent natural ventilation has been installed have won- and continue to winawards for their sustainability and energy efficiency.

For more information about Passivent and its products please visit or call 01732 850770

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