In its most recent Ofsted inspection, Lostock Hall County Primary School in Lancashire was judged outstanding in all areas and has achieved numerous awards, including an eco-schools award, learning excellence awards and national leaders in education status. Its primary and junior pupils are also now on one site following a recent move into a new infant school and nursery facility, which has been built next to the existing Lostock Hall Junior School.

Children at the new school will also benefit from a natural ventilation strategy supplied and installed by Monodraught, the UK’s leading supplier of natural ventilation solutions. Specified by the Lancashire County architects department and Lancashire County Property Group, Monodraught windcatcher natural ventilation systems helped the school building meet the requirements of Building Bulletin 101 and Building Regulations Part L2A.

As Property Group project mechanical engineer Andrew Kells explains: “Classrooms are fitted with single-sided ventilation, which meant we couldn’t satisfy the CIBSE requirements on ventilation rates. By using a simple building energy model we were also able to show that fitting mechanical ventilation wouldn’t enable us to comply due to its higher carbon emissions. However, because we are encouraged to consider the environment when specifying ventilation, Monodraught natural ventilation provided a useful means to reduce emissions while maintaining a comfortable environment for all the building’s occupants.”

The county council has used windcatchers in other educational and conference facilities, so Monodraught was provided with the sizes of Lostock hall classrooms and other areas, and its engineers calculated the number, size and type of windcatcher systems needed to increase the flow of air into the class rooms, create a comfortable environment for the children and staff, and enable the new school building to achieve compliance.

Monodraught recommended windcatcher systems for year one and year two classrooms and the reception class, and a windcatcher sola-boost for both central resource and music and drama areas. For these areas the innovative sola-boost solar assisted natural ventilation system, which is equipped with a solar-powered fan that actually increases the throughput of fresh air as heat from the sun increases, provides additional ventilation when it is most needed.

All the windcatchers are controlled using Monodraught’s iNVent natural ventilation control system, which operates through sensors monitoring temperature and CO2 levels in the school’s seven ventilation zones. In addition, as Andrew Kells points out, because windows can’t be left open overnight, the windcatchers’ night-time cooling facility helps to maintain the security of the building. Using dampers that can be programmed to open fully at night, the windcatchers provide a downwash of cool air that purges the building, leaving the interior feeling fresh and clean for children and teachers the following morning.

The Lancashire County architects department was also able to specify the shape and colour of the windcatcher systems to suit the aesthetics of the building, which was considered important in helping to define an overall style for the new school.