A Breath of Fresh Air?

18 Jan 2017 | Francis Wright

A recent study from Aarhus University in Denmark has shown that student performance can be improved by up to 7% when the level of fresh air in the classrooms is increased. Now, what teacher or parent wouldn’t want that? Classrooms often have over 30 students and, if not properly ventilated, levels of CO2 can rise substantially. Poor ventilation can also cause other problems like a build-up of harmful condensation and volatile organic compounds and other chemical gases from carpets and furniture.

In summer, it’s simple – ventilation can be achieved by opening windows. However, in winter this leads to cold draughts and high heating bills. The UK government is well aware of the issues and has published detailed guidance for architects and contractors involved in building new schools. One solution is to use mechanical ventilation, which uses fans to push fresh air around the building. This is generally combined with heat recovery, transferring heat from outgoing stale air to incoming fresh air. But mechanical ventilation uses significant amounts of electricity, unlike the ingenious solution developed by Cambridge-based Breathing Buildings.

Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF), managed by Turquoise, has been investing since 2010 in energy efficient technologies. One of these investments was in Breathing Buildings, a spin-out from the BP Institute at Cambridge University, that pioneered the concept of ‘mixing ventilation’ and is the world leader in controlled, hybrid ventilation systems. These systems efficiently mix warm air from buildings with incoming cold air, reducing electricity bills and operating costs by approximately 50% compared to conventional mechanical ventilation technology.

LCIF led an investment round in Breathing Buildings in 2012 to help fund expansion of the business. Since then, the company has performed very well and we are delighted that Breathing Buildings has recently been acquired by Volution Group plc, a leading player in the ventilation industry. Breathing Buildings will no doubt continue to grow strongly and we are very pleased to have played a role in its success.

Francis Wright

Managing Director

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