Breathing Buildings

Breathing Buildings Provides Hybrid Ventilation to Air Ambulance Headquarters

  • 17 Dec 2021

Breathing Buildings, the UK’s leading provider of controlled hybrid ventilation systems, has supplied ventilation to the new East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) HQ building.

With sustainability at its heart, the project extended and largely rebuilt EAAA’s original facility at Norwich Airport as a base for their operations, including the Helicopter Emergency Medicine Service (HEMS) recently extended to 24 hours per day, ground support, fundraising and training.

The brand-new section of the building features Breathing Buildings’ NVHR 1100 natural ventilation with heat recycling units together with S1500L e-stack ventilation units.

Designed by architects Feilden+Mawson, the brief was to create a practical building that was a great place to work while being sustainable. To achieve this, they took a fabric first approach, looking at the make-up of the building rather than applying sustainable or green technologies as bolt on items.

The building design considered the proportion of glazing, levels of insulation and the thermal mass of the building. Having successfully used Breathing Buildings’ hybrid ventilation over a number of years in new build schools, it was the M&E Consultant Johns Slater and Haward who recommended Breathing Buildings’ hybrid ventilation system as the ideal solution to provide good indoor air quality and comfortable indoor temperatures using low energy solutions.

Breathing Buildings

Other key members of the project team comprised: the Structural Engineer, Canham Consulting; the Project Manager and also Cost Consultant, Real Consulting; the Main Contractors, PJ Spillings; and M&E Contractor, FG Fennell & Company Limited. 

‘Holistic design ethos’

Stuart Jones, Partner at Feilden+Mawson LLP, comments: “We were aware of the benefits to the workplace that Breathing Buildings brings and it aligned with our holistic design ethos of it being integral to the building and not an add-on.

“The knowledge of having a workplace that would provide a healthier office environment for EAAA’s team, that could monitor and help manage carbon dioxide levels for the benefit of that team, was one none of us wanted to miss.

“Whilst the building utilises sustainable technologies achieving the functionality required for a multi-use facility it also achieves the visual impact, we wanted to achieve.”

In addition to the Breathing Buildings units to assist in maintaining the internal temperature in very warm weather, most rooms are provided with opening windows and also have motorised louvres at low level to provide additional air change rates during periods of high external ambient temperatures.

To provide the additional mass, exposed reinforced concrete floors and a concrete roof construction with suspended acoustic baffles and exposed services have been utilised.

The mass naturally moderates the internal temperatures, reducing the temperature peaks and troughs. By operating the hybrid ventilation at night to use the cooler ambient temperatures, natural cooling is provided which ensures that at the start of each day the internal spaces are comfortable and fresh, allowing comfort levels to be maintained internally throughout the day under most external conditions.

‘A good ventilation solution’

Eric Benton, of Johns Slater and Haward, comments: “We proposed hybrid ventilation for this project as it provides good indoor air quality and comfortable internal temperatures without the need for mechanical cooling which will result in a higher energy use.

“Working in conjunction with Breathing Buildings the building was thermally analysed using dynamic thermal modelling and working closely with the architect, and structural engineer, the Breathing Buildings solutions were integrated into the building.

I believe that the building we have delivered will work well using the lovely fresh natural Norfolk air to provide a good ventilation solution and maintain comfortable temperatures even in the middle of summer.”

Matthew Jones, East Anglian Air Ambulance CEO, comments: “We were unfamiliar with the concept of hybrid ventilation before this project but were able to visit the Breathing Buildings factory in Soham to see the system for ourselves and then the Dyson Building in Cambridge which also utilises Breathing Buildings solutions.

“Once the performance of the system had been demonstrated and we saw the clear benefits it provides to the workplace, we were fully behind the idea. We are looking forward to operating from the building and working in a space that is both comfortable and healthy to work in.”

Natural Ventilation with Heat Recycling

The NVHR® (Natural Ventilation with Heat Recycling) hybrid ventilation system’s patented ultra-efficient facade-based mixing ventilation allows single-sided, enhanced natural ventilation in deep plan spaces whilst making the most of internal heat gains to deliver superb thermal comfort and indoor air quality.

Hybrid ventilation focuses on the vital balance of indoor air quality, thermal comfort and efficiency. The NVHR® tackles energy efficiency and environmental issues and provides excellent indoor air quality.

Breathing Buildings’ energy efficient NVHR® is the next generation of energy efficient hybrid ventilation, offering almost 50% reduction in energy savings and so operating costs. NVHR® comprises both natural and mechanical ventilation.

Allowing low-energy hybrid natural ventilation, even in buildings with limited facade and roof space, highly efficient mixing fans mitigate cold draughts in winter and provide a ventilation boost in summer.

Fitted with external and internal temperature sensors and an intelligent controller, the system monitors conditions to create an ideal indoor environment, boosting both productivity and wellbeing. NVHR® optimises indoor air quality, comfort and efficiency by automatically switching between natural, hybrid and mechanical ventilation, maximising benefits.

NVHR® is suitable for use in almost any building due to its small size and can be deployed in offices, meeting rooms, schools, public areas and other deep plan spaces.

The three modes for NVHR® are : Summer mode, Winter mode and Summer boost. In winter the heat recycling strategy for ventilation offers huge heating-bill savings while providing good ventilation. The mid-season natural ventilation mode enables the unit to maximise the benefits of passive ventilation. The Summertime boost function fully opens the unit’s damper to maximise ventilation and cooler air.

EAAA Picture Credits: © Sarah Toon Photography

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