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Erina, New South Wales, Australia, 2016/11/08 - With the collaboration of SolarVenti Australia and Massey University a research project was conducted to determine the indoor air quality in classrooms. The results showed a decrease in illness related absentees and an increase in productivity.
A Massey University Construction Professor has been presented with a prestigious industry award for a solar heating project in Kiwi schools that utilised Danish solar ventilation product SolarVenti.
Professor Robyn Phipps was awarded the highly commended award in the James Hardie Innovation category at the 2016 New Zealand Institute of Building Awards. The award was given to Professor Phipps by industry experts to acknowledge her leadership on a Health Research Council of New Zealand and Lottery Health funded project. This project aimed at improving health and indoor climate in a learning environment in low decile classrooms with a low cost solar ventilation unit.
The solar air heater used in this experiment was the highly awarded Danish SolarVenti range. The SolarVenti range is the first air collector with the Solarkeymark, is a recognised technology under New Zealand’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) funding projects and certified with Fraunhofer, CE, DaneTV, Delta and DTU
Professor Phipps’ research team installed roof-mounted Solarventi solar air heater panels to heat fresh air and ventilate 12 classrooms in Palmerston North. Results suggest classrooms with roof mounted solar ventilation unit used less conventional heaters than adjacent classrooms (without solar ventilation unit), reducing the cost of heating to schools up to 2.5 times (Search - construction.massey.ac.nz/NZBERS-2014_proc_abs_Boulic-M.pdf)
“As schools operating hours coincide with peak daylight hours needed for solar heating, it is common sense to use free solar energy for heating the air. However this is a novel concept in most countries,” say’s Professor Phipps of the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology.
The study is also using genomics to identify bacteria collected by swabs taken from the children’s throats and acts as a measure of the trial’s success in reducing student illness.
“Analysis of the data is ongoing, but it could be an effective tool in reducing incidents of Streptococcus within New Zealand schools,” says Professor Phipps.
Ninety percent of the New Zealand (NZ) classrooms are naturally ventilated through open windows. Due to the combination of a high density of occupants and a reliance on natural ventilation, it is challenging to provide the classrooms with adequate ventilation and consequently an acceptable Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) during the winter months.
Conventional mechanical ventilation systems are capital and energy expensive as well as need maintenance; they are not affordable for most NZ schools. Consequently, an alternative and affordable method for increasing classroom ventilation rate in winter is needed.
This study involved ten classrooms (from five primary schools) in winter 2013 and 12 classrooms (from six primary schools) in winter 2014 (one school was added in 2014 to the 2013 school sample). All classrooms were located in Palmerston North, 150 km north from Wellington, the capital city of NZ.
In an additional test in association with Dr Mikael Boulic(Massey University) and the air quality team at GNS Science, PM10 (Particulate matter smaller than 10 microns) was monitored inside the classrooms plus outdoors. The solar ventilation unit had a positive impact in decreasing the PM10 concentrations by a factor of 1.5 in the treatment classroom.
Assistance and supply to Professor Robyn Phipps and her team was from SolarVenti Australia. For more information Contact Solarventi Australia.