Home' Teacher : May 2011 Contents FEATURE -- SCHOOL DESIGN & SUPPLY 43
As every school has a roof, every school has a
natural solar collector. Whether a new or exist-
ing building, tile or metal roof, the composition
of the roof provides a natural solar collector
than can be used to either assist heating on a
cool day or assist with cooling on a hot day.
On a hot day, the initial heat build-up is
between the roof sheets and sarking, or foil,
which is normally laid directly under the roof
sheets. This radiant hot air sits in the roof
space creating a thermal heat load that trans-
fers into the classroom.
Fans located near the roof ridge, however,
can extract this air. The hot air can be effec-
tively purged or exhausted from the roof. By
cycling ambient air through the roof, the heat
transferred into the classroom is reduced.
Throughout the day, this results in a cooler
school. Then, when the temperatu re drops at
night after a hot day, the air between the roof
sheets and foil is approximately three degrees
cooler than the ambient air. This can be redi-
rected, flushing the classroom with fresh cool
air throughout the night to provide a more
comfortable teaching environ ment for the
Even when it's not hot outside, there can
still be a significant build-up of radiant heat
on the roof. On cool days, this air can be har-
nessed, filtered and moved into the classroom
to assist heating. The ribs of the roof act as a
duct, hot air rises, is pumped through filters
and back through vents to be used to heat the
It makes sense to use fresh air as a source of
heating and cooling. One product that makes
this possible, smartbreeze, is a compact unit
that can be added simply to new or existing
The unit can be run on solar or 240 volt
power. It uses very little energy to operate the
system of fans. The fans draw warm air from
the roof space or cool air from the outside
environment and filter it through an electro-
static filter before pumping it back into the
The positioning and number of units depend
on the roof and floor plan. An ambient sensor
is located under the eaves to register the outside
air temperatu re.
The unit is thermostatically controlled, so
schools can simply set the temperature and
the unit will heat and cool to try to reach the
desired temperature set on the thermostat.
Teachers do not have to do anything.
The thermostat also calculates the amount
of carbon dioxide the school is preventing by
using green energy as a source of heating and
cooling. This enables students to engage with
and monitor the positive impact that innova-
tive design can have on their environment.
This impact could include a reduction of up to
40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Multiple units can be connected to a single
thermostat. The thermostat for the natural
heating and cooling system can also be linked
to existing traditional fossil fuel or renewable
heating and cooling systems. This means that
on very hot or very cold days, if the natural
system is not heating or cooling a room quickly
enough, and temperature within the room
deviates from the set temperature by more
than two degrees Celsius, then the thermostat
will turn on the traditional heating or cooling
system that is connected.
This way, the renewable energy heating
and cooling system will have priority over the
traditional system and will ensure that you
maximise your energy savings. And, due to
the reduced demand on existing heating and
cooling units, their life spans are extended.
This type of design is ideal to assist heating
in schools, kindergartens and preschools and
can be modified for larger areas such as halls,
performing art centres and gymnasiums.
With the increasing cost of utilities and
the impact of fossil fuelled heating and cool-
ing for schools it makes sense to investigate
an environmentally friendly, inexpensive sys-
tem to heat and cool while reducing a school's
energy bills and carbon footprint impact on
Robert Se mmel is the marketing manager for
Smart Roof Australia, suppliers of smartbreeze.
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