1st January 2012

A Monodraught natural ventilation strategy has helped Newcastle-Under-Lyme College achieve an ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating, and win an award in the higher education class. The new £60m Newcastle-Under-Lyme College (NUL) provides a wide range of vocational and A-level programmes for 3,000 full-time students, as well as adult learners, students on higher education programmes and employees of local companies on Train to Gain programmes and apprentices.

The campus, which comprises the main college building, a 4-court sports hall and a Construction Skills & Technology Centre, was conceived from the outset with a holistic approach to sustainability, encouraged within the College’s brief and based on a collective design team solution drawing on previous experience of similar projects. Led by Ellis Williams Architects (EWA) a leading education specialist with offices in Warrington, London and Berlin, a natural ventilation strategy was developed by Monodraught and consultants Operon (now part of Europa building services) as a key component of the holistic approach.

Monodraught was selected by EWA for its proven track record in educational installations throughout the UK, and worked with Operon to establish a specification to meet the indoor air quality required for classrooms and other areas. The performance of the final specification was evaluated by Operon using computer thermal modelling to ensure its ability to reduce energy bills, improve NUL’s carbon footprint and optimise BREEAM levels.

Commenting for Ellis Williams, Michael Giblin says the fresh air provided by the combination of opening windows and Monodraught’s SOLA-BOOST WINDCATCHER® natural ventilation systems make a positive contribution to the learning environment by creating a sense of wellbeing.

In many of the learning spaces within schools, a considerable volume of warm air is generated from the combination of students’ body heat, computers and other equipment.

In these environments, Monodraught’s top down, wind-driven natural ventilation systems have proved to be a very effective means of bringing ventilation into interior spaces and providing an easily achievable, natural solution that is both variable and controllable – especially in sports halls and classrooms, which are usually designed with single-sided ventilation – i.e. windows on outside walls.

Because warm air rises naturally to ceiling level, the roof mounted SOLA-BOOST WINDCATCHER systems are ideally positioned to allow warm air to vent naturally to atmosphere. Solar power drives an ultra-quiet, high-efficiency fan, which carries an airstream down into the space below through a central duct. The solar power is optimised by Monodraught’s unique PowerTrack™ control system to deliver maximum power to the fan under full sun conditions, so the brighter the sun the greater the ventilation rate. Conversely, as part of a ventilation strategy, the fan can be designed to act as a solar powered extractor to expel air from the space, as was the case in some of the rooms at NUL. The solar-driven fan provides true energy-free operation for both ventilation and extraction.

A total of 43 Monodraught systems were specified: 10 SOLA-BOOST WINDCATCHER systems were installed in the sports hall, a dance studio, classrooms, an office and the fitness suite; 12 Sola-extract systems were installed in internal and external changing and shower rooms; and 21 SOLA-VENT® systems, which combine the benefits of Monodraught’s WINDCATCHER natural ventilation and SUNPIPE® natural daylight technologies; were installed in WCs throughout the college.

Another important advantage of the SOLA-BOOST WINDCATCHERs considered by the NUL collective design team is the provision of night-time cooling in areas throughout the college. Roof-mounted WINDCATCHERs can be programmed to open during the night to bring cool air into the space below, while simultaneously extracting warmer stale air. The influx of cooler air leaves the interior of the college buildings feeling fresh and clean, creating a healthy environment for students the next morning.

A spokesman for NUL’s facilities management team says the Monodraught natural ventilation strategy has been performing to expectations for three years with no problems and no evidence of solar gains in any areas of the college and adds that the natural low maintenance, low cost, low energy ventilation solution ticks all the boxes, ensuring that schools meet BB101 requirements for ventilation rates and CO2 levels.

Summing up, Michael Giblin says Monodraught is EMA’s first point of reference for passive ventilation systems and Windcatchers have been specified on numerous education projects, providing natural ventilation solutions in many deep plan education spaces.

He also says that at the NUL College the SOLA-BOOST WINDCATCHERs have made a significant contribution towards the NUL Construction Skills & Technology Centre being awarded an ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating, and was an award winner in the higher education class.


WINDCATCHER SOLA-BOOST, SOLA-VENT and SUNPIPE are registered trademarks owned by Monodraught Limited.

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