REHAU is continuing to provide heating and cooling solutions to state of the art education developments as the University of Warwick utilises its Thermally Activated Building Structure (TABS) system.
Work has already started on the £27m Mathematical Sciences Building on the main University of Warwick campus located on the outskirts of Coventry. The six-storey building will be used by the Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistic departments for academic offices, inter-disciplinary research and open plan teaching spaces and will also feature some larger computer teaching spaces. It is due for completion in September 2018, in time for the start of the new academic year.
The Mathematical Sciences Building has a number of lecture rooms and office spaces which require a supplementary cooling system, particularly where there is no access to openable windows. To deliver this cooling function in the most cost effective and efficient way, REHAU was approached to design a Thermally Activated Building Structure (TABS) system suitable for the requirements of the University.
The REHAU TABS system is a versatile cooling and heating system which uses the large thermal mass of concrete in a building’s structure to adjust the environment inside the building throughout the day. It does this by running heated or chilled water through a network of pipes embedded within the concrete slabs, and can be used in virtually any concrete structure.
The pipework is connected using REHAU’s EVERLOC™ compression sleeve joints, which guarantee a leak-free installation. EVERLOC joints rely on the memory effect of the pipe to help seal it directly to the compression sleeve, giving a permanent seal without O-rings.
The final TABS design approved for the University of Warwick building was a circuit system, incorporating 3,700m2 of pipework installed within every concrete slab over five floors to provide supplementary cooling to the new University building. Separate circuits were laid within each lecture room to provide background cooling which are controlled via service ducts run through the spine of the building. This system is designed to assist with heat gains.
Solihull-based consultancy Couch Perry Wilkes recommended REHAU’s TABS system for the project as they had previously worked on successful TABS installations for the University of Northampton and the University of Leicester, so were confident the innovative system could deliver the brief for the University of Warwick’s new Mathematical Sciences Building.
Iain Dyson, from Couch Perry Wilkes, said: “From our work with the TABS system on previous developments we knew that we could replicate some of the major benefits on the University of Warwick project, namely the ability to provide a more comfortable environment to spaces without openable windows, assistance with night purging to reduce excess heat during the summer months and to maintain the desired indoor temperature throughout the year without the need to install exposed cooling systems which have much greater energy demands.”
Wakefield-based installation company Dragon Heating worked with REHAU on the specification for the University of Warwick, and were appointed to fit the TABS system on the project when the contract was awarded. The team had worked with REHAU on other large-scale projects before, in schools and hospitals, but this was Dragon Heating’s first TABS assignment with REHAU.
Dan Gill, Estimating and Sales Manager at Dragon Heating, said: “The install of the TABS itself has been very straightforward so far. Although it’s a new kind of installation for the Dragon team, our installers are already familiar with REHAU pipework and connections from working on underfloor heating installations, so it’s very easy for them to pick up the technical knowledge required. The main challenges we face actually come from being on site at such an early stage in the construction programme and working to a very tight schedule, with other trades working closely alongside us.”
The in-situ TABS pipework installation at University of Warwick has been very quick to fit when the site is clear and Dragon Heating is laying up to 400m² of pipework a day with a two-person team. Before joining Dragon Heating a year ago, Dan had worked on other TABS projects with REHAU, so knew what would be expected from them on the University job.
Dan commented: “I knew we needed to be extremely careful in our approach as the pipework has to be very accurate in a TABS installation. If there are pipes in a block where they shouldn’t be, other trades could come along after us and accidentally drill into one of our pipes which is difficult to rectify and will inevitably cause delays in the building programme. I knew we also needed to be mindful of the additional sign off procedures with the site manager, as we would be working on a live construction site. TABS is not difficult to install, you just need to be more aware of what’s going on around you and how what you are doing impacts it.”
Tony Harbour, Senior Commercial Manager at REHAU, said: “REHAU has a strong history of installation work within the education sector, and this is only increasing as new state of the art developments seek cost effective and energy efficient ways to provide both heating and cooling solutions. These systems are designed to offer a comfortable environment all year round for students at Warwick University but require very little maintenance. This makes them very much a fit and forget for the team at the University.”