Good indoor climate gets attention in a state-of-the-art international school

Recognising the urgent need for real-time knowledge of changing air quality levels in classrooms in their state-of-the-art sustainable buildings, the Copenhagen International school (CIS) deploys several AmbiNode sensors & software platform to help monitor Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ). The work done as an initiative with Kuben Management enables live monitoring of the Active House principles to enable a healthy and sustainable building. The school believes good indoor climate is vital for the well being of both students and teachers having clear impacts on their concentration levels, productivity and well being.

By: Priya Mani

15 Jun 2018

The CIS Campus in Nordhavn is clad in 12,000 individually angled solar panels, in a dazzling sequin-like effect, and is expected to supply more than half of the school’s annual electricity consumption. Covering a total area of 6,048 square meters makes it one of the largest building-integrated solar power plants in Denmark. The ventilation systems are built to provide three times the required airflow to ensure optimal temperature and air quality. Cooling ceilings, draft free ventilation and high insulation window frames are built to create optimal occupant comfort in a sustainable way. Picture Credit: Adam Mørk / CF Møller Architects.

Children spend enormous amounts of time in classrooms and are affected by the indoor environment quality (IEQ) and a crucial component of it is the indoor air quality (IAQ). The age and quality of buildings that house a school, location of windows, ventilation systems if any, wind speed and direction and proximity to roads, intersections and other urban activity are all factors that influence the indoor air quality. Children are particularly vulnerable to toxic substances in their environment since they spend enormous time in activities, study and play in the space. Examples of symptoms caused by poor IAQ include respiratory irritation, sore throat, asthma attacks, drowsiness, headaches and most importantly inability to concentrate.

Children in a classroom in the CIS Left Wing. AmbiNodes are discreet and continuously monitor various indoor environment parameters. The facility managers have a deep overview on actual happenings at both minute-level details and weekly averages. The AmbiNode is mounted by the pillar in this classroom.

“We at CIS pay very high focus to indoor climate — especially the sound acoustics, air flow and lighting are all designed to lessen the every-day stresses of the students and to help them focus and achieve better learning.” — Anders Smith, Copenhagen International School Property Fund (ECIS).

According to the US-EPA, considering both energy management and protection of IAQ together during construction and energy upgrade tasks can improve school facility management. When energy efficiency and IAQ protection goals are integrated and addressed during project planning, scheduling and execution, schools can achieve strong results in both areas and reduce costs. Alternatively, if careful attention is not paid to the interaction between energy management and IAQ, building efficiency and occupant health can suffer.

In 2014, the EU stated that in Europe, more than 64 million students and almost 4.5 million teachers spend many hours each school day inside pre-primary, primary and secondary schools. Children spend more time in school than in any other place except home. A report by the European Federation of Asthma and Allergy Associations (EFA) in 2002 (EFA, 2002) identified various indoor air quality (IAQ) problems in schools in European countries. It underlined a lack of studies on their consequences for health and on standardised methodologies enabling the issues to be approached in a holistic way, as well as assessing the impact of different local policies regarding the indoor environment in school buildings. Moreover, the implementation of energy-efficiency requirements in the EU (Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), 2010), will result in the gradual movement towards a more energy-efficient building stock in Europe, as regards new and existing 14 buildings, including school buildings. When coping with school building’s energy efficiency requirements, it is recommended that attention should also be paid to preserving good IAQ, to avoid negatively affecting the health, comfort and productivity of the school building’s occupants. In this context, passive and low-energy buildings are generally recommended. The challenge is to rationalise and optimise energy expenditure while adequately meeting the health and comfort requirements of school building occupants.

“Making air quality values tangible and visual is key to understand and act on the 15 litres of air we breathe every day. This becomes even more important and relevant in the context of a school where well being and productivity are key.” — Lone Feifer, Active House & Director of Sustainability & Architecture at VELUX Group.

At CIS, several AmbiNodes are deployed in a variety of different locations (Classrooms, passages and common areas) to understand the variations that are caused by occupancy, time of the day, location in the building and the efficacy of centralised climate control & ventilation.

The AmbiNodes are mounted onto varied location types in the school to understand the influence of occupancy periods, light and noise conditions, and humidity fluctuations especially along large exit ways.

The CIS building itself, has been designed to adhere to the Active House Principles — which balances indoor climate, energy usage and sustianble construction. The AmbiNode data is continuously plotted against a live Active House radar to show compliance as well as deviations from original design i.e continuous monitoring enables long term adherence and not just original intent — thus creating an evidence based approach to healthy buildings.

“Copenhagen International School is an example of the Prosumer building of the future, supporting the aims of the EU Building Directive and the connected “Nearly Zero Energy Building“ standard. At the same time the online “Active House” quality also documents the focus on Comfort and Sustainability quality.” — Peder Vejsig Pedersen, Senior Advisor, Civil Engineer, Kuben Management

The building’s HVAC systems are designed to provide three times the required airflow to ensure optimal temperature and air quality. In line with that, we found that the school’s various rooms have a consistent, healthy level of CO2 factoring in occupancy and timing. This is evidenced in the excellent and sustained air quality values and the rapid compensation trends in the air flow rates — showing up as sharp peaks followed by rapid drops in CO2 levels. There is clear evidence to show the excellent performance of the ventilation system.

The early observations so far are very fascinating, given that the city is experiencing a very early onset of high summer temperatures. Managing long hours of heat and light by the waterfront location is a dual challenge for indoor climate optimisation. Occupancy increases the odds with higher CO2 levels and perspiration. On a hot summer weekend in early June this year, the indoor temperatures in some of the junior classrooms was 30 C and senior classroom notched up to 28 C. When the HVAC systems kicked in on Monday morning, the building clamoured up and sent temperatures down to more comfortable levels.

This sort of knowledge is crucial to make immediate remedial measures that can impact the use of energy to maintain an optimal environment. Is it more economical to let the ventilation run at an optimised low over an overly warm weekend instead of rebooting on Monday morning? Scandinavian summer days leading up to midsummer are very long, testing the building’s coping strategy.

The Ambinode software enables live monitoring in addition to anomaly detection and pattern recognition. This enabled us to noticed a temperature profile in the building exceed the original intent on a continuous basis which was then relayed to the building’s control system where the temperature set points were adjusted to create a more optimal outcome for the occupants.

The AmbiNode solution provides very crucial information on contaminants like fine particles i.e PM10 and smaller ones like PM2.5. This data reflects the air quality outside and is very key to optimising the HVAC performances for the buildings. The wind direction by the harbour (which is also measured by Leapcraft’s data scientists) adds up to all the data math that synthesises AmbiNode’s data. The schools ventilation system has excellent filtration methods and we found very low concentration of fine particles, even in peak use periods.

The coming months at CIS will explain the case for continuous and pervasive environmental intelligence in schools. When a brilliantly built new school feels this need, it only furthers the need for such an effort in other schools.

For more information on how Leapcraft is working with schools in Denmark on improving their indoor climate contact us.

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