Sustainable Building Futures: Thermography Resolves Persistent Heating Problems

Monday 27th of January 2014 12:00 AM

The Sustainable Building Futures project is a unique venture that engages with eligible small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the collaborative development, assessment, and implementation of innovative environmental technology products and services for use in sustainable construction.

The project endeavours to provide support to SMEs, based in the West Midlands region, with a view to enabling them to compete and grow within tomorrow’s challenging business environment. The project offers services fully funded by Coventry University and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

 

The Challenge

A Birmingham architects practice was baffled by poor performance from underfloor ventilation and heating system in their company offices.

The offices comprise of a large open plan office. A large air intake duct stretches around the left elevation of the building drawing cold air into the rear plant room. The air is heated with various systems including heat exchangers that take stale heat exhausted from the office area. The heated air is then pumped into the office space through an underfloor void, which acts as a large heating duct. This air enters the office area through a series of circular floor mounted vents.

 

The Problem

Staff reported a wide range of temperatures, draughts and comfort levels throughout the day in the main open plan office area.

Those sitting towards the plant room end of the building were too hot whilst at the other end staff felt too cold. Exhaustive performance tests and monitoring of the heating system in the plant room over the previous year had revealed no mechanical fault nor any conclusive evidence for such variations in comfort.

 

Thermal Imaging Survey Solves the Puzzle

The Sustainable Building Futures (SBF) team depressurised the building using air tightness testing equipment to draw cold air into the system.

A thermal imaging survey then clearly revealed that the seals between the floor tiles were inadequate and poorly fitted. Consequently similar amounts of heated air were leaking uncontrollably through gaps between the tiles as they were coming controlled from the circular floor vents.

The pressure of the air driven into the underfloor duct had been designed to adequately fill the space and allow for losses through the floor vents. It did not take into account losses from between the floor tiles. A simple replacement of the tile seals was all that was necessary to rectify this problem.

 

To discuss how we can work with you, please contact the Sustainable Building Futures Team: sbf@coventry.ac.uk

Category: Innovation