When constructing or refurbishing educational buildings, the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system is key to providing an optimal living and learning environment. As David Simoes, brand manager with Zehnder explains, a good system means students can work, rest and play in a comfortable indoor climate all year round.
One technology that works extremely well in educational establishments is radiant heating and cooling. Delivering benefits to designers, contractors, managers, teachers, pupils and maintenance staff alike, it provides added value at all stages of its lifecycle.
Radiant technology utilises the same principal as the sun. Radiant panels heat the objects in the room as opposed to the air. So, the temperature within a radiant heated or cooled room can be up to 3ºC lower or higher than that of an alternatively heated room, while giving the same sense of comfort. This enables quicker response times to temperature fluctuations, reduced infiltration losses and a more even temperature distribution for a better working environment.
The obvious advantage is energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions. A saving of up to 40 per cent can be made on alternative heating systems. Additionally, many modern schools utilise large open-plan teaching areas where staff can partition the space according to the activity taking place, radiant heating provides a uniform temperature throughout the space at all times for maximum comfort.
The ability of radiant panels to react so quickly to changes in the indoor climate means they’re ideal for multi-use educational buildings where different rooms are likely to have different requirements throughout the day, evening and weekend. By responding automatically and promptly to changes in temperature they provide excellent controllability for maximum energy efficiency.
Functionality and maintenance
From a practical perspective radiant technology offers many additional advantages for all stakeholders:
Dual functionality – a key benefit of radiant technology. With the provision of heating and cooling from just one installation, significant savings can be made through reduced equipment and installation costs.
Multi-functionality – radiant panels can be integrated into a multi-functional classroom services ceiling raft. Complete with data cabling, lighting, fire alarms, smoke detectors and acoustics etc. the stylish multi-service raft, with plug-and-play installation, helps create a modern and uncluttered aesthetic.
Special solutions – radiant panels are versatile and can be fitted with special solutions to satisfy the requirements of every school project. Galvanised ball guards make them ideal for use in sports halls. A special wet room design is available for use in swimming pools, and a dust protector panel provides a hygienic option to limit dust build-up – ideal for allergy sufferers. Basic lighting, acoustic insulation, loudspeakers can be fitted as required.
Renewable energy – if you’re looking at using renewable energy resources then radiant ticks that box too. Thanks to a low storage mass, radiant systems are ideally suited to operating at low-temperatures and can be used with solar, biomass or ground and air source heat pumps for a sustainable alternative.
Installation and maintenance – easy to install and maintain, radiant panels can be quickly connected by means of press/screw fittings to help reduce time spent on site. Hung independently, or fitted directly into an existing grid ceiling, they’re suitable for both new-build or refurbishment projects. And being manufactured from corrosion-free materials they require little or no maintenance for long-term peace of mind.
The radiator Alongside radiant technology, radiators also offer many advantages to architects and specifiers. With excellent choice in design and functionality, they go a long way to meeting the expectations of more discerning parents and students when it comes to student accommodation. Innovative aesthetics, materials and technologies, together with high efficiencies and greater controllability, make radiators a versatile heating solution.
Traditional column radiators can add a touch of class and timeless elegance to refurbished educational buildings, while more contemporary alternatives can form part of the interior decor and matched to the surroundings or used as a design feature.
The design flexibility of radiators means they can provide customised heating solutions together with architectural creativity. With bespoke sizing options, radiators can be shaped to fit the building structure. The contours of circular or undulating walls can be followed and radiators can be wall or floor-mounted for ease of placement. They can be integrated within the building structure – column radiators incorporated within a balustrade or railing radiators used to heat difficult areas.
Additional boost functionality through the use of integral fans within trench heating, ensures areas with glass facades not only stay warm, but also have an uninterrupted view to the outside world.
Low surface temperature radiators ensure the safety of occupants and, with a wide choice of styles and colour, can be integral to the building design. New material technology provides additional options for architects and specifiers as polymer radiators combine performance, comfort and sustainability with style, durability and ease of installation.
With a wide choice of products on the market, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking to achieve from the heating system from the outset. This will help guide product selection and ensure you provide a functional, energy-efficient and aesthetically pleasing solution to climate control that meets all stakeholders’ requirements.