Oxygen House appointed ATS to identify potential causes of the temperature control issues being experienced throughout the building, investigate the potential for reductions in energy consumption, carbon footprint and provide a solution that gives a consistent working environment for all of the building’s occupants.

 

Just as the project delivery phase was about to kick off, the country was plunged into lockdown. When the project was originally designed, the COVID pandemic was not part of our lives and as such was not factored into our design or delivery plan.

 

ATS’s design team therefore had to pivot and change the delivery plan in order to keep the team and the occupiers safe whilst working around COVID-19. This also meant the design brief changed very quickly as well as the users wanting to utilise the HVAC Control to minimise virus transmission as much as possible.

Development of an extensive control strategy to provide an integrated and sustainable design approach will further a remote working approach and assist in minimising virus transmission.

Technical Challenges

Integration of the proprietary Air source heat pump & associated heat recovery ventilation controls within the main plantrooms and across the 3 floors required bespoke software drivers to be developed which would allow the two systems to adequately communicate and provide the users with a deep view of the operation of the building.  This would also allow ATS’s software to encompass a seasonally adjusted proportional control, based on internal temperature and CO2 levels which has before now not been possible with the type of legacy Air source heat pump solution that is installed at the site.

 

At the time of tender and initial design the COVID pandemic was not part of our lives and as such was not factored into our solution or delivery plan. However, once the project came to fruition it was apparent that a new way of working would be required as the company was to implement the new system in an occupied “live” environment. Furthermore, noting that there is a strong correlation between air quality and the survival of the COVID-19 virus, the building user wanted to encourage the management of air quality and de-risk all stakeholders as much as possible with air quality data being readily available once the project was completed.

Resolution of Challenges

Although information published by CIBSE (Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers) & REHVA (Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations) indicates that Covid-19 is resistant to environmental changes and is susceptible only to a very high relative humidity (RH) above 80% and a temperature above 30°C. This is not acceptable for reasons of thermal comfort for Oxygen House. ATS therefore had to devise a suitable regime to maximise air quality whilst minimising energy usage. Whilst this is technically possible, in practice it has not been implemented before and therefore it is unclear how the Primary HVAC plant would react after being enabled to work at an increased level under different parameters.

Considerable testing of the above procedures was required to replicate an occupied building under several outside ambient conditions.

Comprehensive Interfacing of all the separate services and systems was necessary to ensure that energy consumption was kept as low as possible whilst ensuring that all requirements were upheld, the office environmental conditions remained comfortable at all times and COVID-19 guidelines were also upheld.