How to Maximise Natural Light and Ventilation for SEND Schools
The Covid-19 pandemic made us all more aware of the link between good ventilation, hygiene and wellbeing. It isn’t just that stale, poorly circulated air helps airborne germs to spread, it’s also important to regulate CO2 levels to help alertness and concentration.
There’s also a well-established connection between natural lighting and effective learning environments. In short, more natural lighting and ventilation in our schools helps support good health and learning.
As is often the case, increasing natural light and ventilation presents unique challenges for SEND schools. A calm and non-distracting environment is particularly important, which adds design constraints that influence the ideal balance of air circulation, thermal comfort and illumination.
Ventilation options also have to consider the issue of noise. This could be external noise access if windows are opened or the sound of a mechanical ventilation system operating.
Designing the Balance
Achieving the right balance for a new SEND school building needs careful modeling in the design phase to achieve the optimum air circulation and the most effective positioning of windows and skylights. Equally important is the degree of confidence that the thermal and acoustic performance of new SEND schools and classrooms will match the design.
Careful calculations can easily be upset by draughts and lack of air-tightness in the finished structure, or by walls, floors and ceilings that transmit more noise or heat than they should.
Delivering the Balance
A successful project that fully meets the needs of students relies on eliminating potential disconnects between the design and the finished product. This means three things:
- Making the project fully digitally enabled from design to delivery (which eliminates the need for interpretation during the construction phase).
- Using a fabric-first approach so that the desired thermal and acoustic properties are built into the structure.
- Adopting a pre-manufactured offsite process that delivers air-tightness through fine tolerances and precision.
Panelised offsite construction offers many advantages. The large format panels leave the factory with the required thermal and acoustic performance fully embedded in the fabric. The panels also fit together precisely to guarantee air-tightness and fully controlled air circulation.
The design process is highly collaborative. Our engineers and production specialists work closely with designers and architects to evolve high-performance designs for SEND schools that are also practical and cost-effective.
To help you explore the benefits of panelised offsite construction for SEND schools in more detail, Innovaré is organising a series of free online CPD sessions.