Ventilation technology is a breath of fresh air at Rubb

Rubb is always looking for ways to enhance internal conditions within storage facilities across a wide range of market sectors.

All fabric buildings are supplied with vent openings in the gables as standard, to allow some natural ventilation. Other openings can be positioned in the sidewalls to provide a higher level of natural ventilation.

These openings can also be fitted with ventilation fans to provide the recommended number of air changes per hour to suit the type of activity within the building. Specialist ventilation to accommodate blast and paint activities, fumes and dust extraction can also be provided and integrated within Rubb products.

Ventilation is essential to:

  • Reduce/eliminate the effects of condensation
  • Provide fresh air and remove stale or vitiated air to maintain air quality
  • Avoid unpleasant over-heating
  • Provide air for combustion for heating equipment and process burners

We spoke to Upnorth Group ventilation specialist Craig Dixon (who has been working with and pioneering new ventilation systems for 25 years) about these and other key benefits that specialist ventilation systems can provide to end users of Rubb facilities and warehouses.

Can you explain the types of ventilation system you would typically provide for Rubb fabric structures?

It very much depends on the type of Rubb building we are dealing with and also its proposed use. Given the wide range of building designs available with Rubb structures each type or style of building needs to be assessed on its own merit. For example, a Rubb structure comprised of a single skin fabric without insulation will almost certainly require mechanical extract ventilation and heating or dehumidification to combat condensation (obviously this is location dependent). This is simply due to the dew point temperature of the internal surface of the fabric.

Conversely, a well-insulated type Rubb Building utilising their patented Thermohall® fabric with a double skin insulated design will generally not require mechanical ventilation for condensation control at all but rather for other reasons attributable to the type of activity or use within the building, occupancy level or to meets combustion air requirements of heat producing appliances.

It is often the case that the natural ventilation louvres provided as standard on the Thermohall® type structures will suffice if there are no appliances, processes or vehicular access within the building itself.

Typically, additional mechanical ventilation is required for process ventilation and will generally utilise extract fans and fresh air make-up either by drop nosed intakes or additional weatherproof external louvres.

Are some system types more suitable for particular sectors such as military, aviation, sport, energy, environmental, ports, general industry?

Definitely, simply because these sectors will all have varying internal requirements to take into account as well as external environments often depending on the location of the building. In some cases, it may not be feasible to utilise a particular type of ventilation system or the system may need to operate in conjunction with a filtration system, heating or air conditioning system to work effectively.

In cases where large volumes of outside air are required to be introduced, supplementary heating and air mixing / recirculation is typically required to improve energy efficiency and indoor comfort levels.

Why are these ventilation systems so important for these structures?

Due to the construction of Rubb structures, mechanical ventilation isn’t typically too important for the structure themselves (albeit be aware this is location dependent) but more important for the process or use of the building. Additional ventilation is used to provide a safe and comfortable environment free from the effects of moisture, carbon dioxide, and pollutants be it fumes, dust or other air-borne contaminants.

What are the capabilities of key ventilation options?

Natural ventilation is generally the most energy efficient and has the lowest embodied energy system that can be deployed and should always be investigated as the first option. In a Rubb Building, it is normally provided by means of louvres fitted within the external fabric of the Rubb structure at the gable ends.

Natural ventilation can be limited in its capacity to provide high ventilation rates and controllability for certain applications and in many cases, mechanical ventilation is required.

Mechanical ventilation can be used effectively to deal with a wide range of issues concerning temperature control and stratification of warm air, condensation, air quality and fume/dust removal.

When using mechanical ventilation, it is important to consider how best to try and recover heat from the exhaust air stream. Options include return air mixing, air-air plate heat exchangers, water run around coils and thermal wheels. Each have their advantages and disadvantages, and must all be considered on a case by case basis depending on the use of the building.

What are the advantages of ventilation systems installed within Rubb structures? What unique benefits do they offer Rubb clients?

Rubb offer extremely well insulated structures, such as the Thermohall® system which reduces the heating requirement and also ventilation loads in the building. This makes it easier for the building to comply with Buildings Regulations Part L.

What benefits do they provide to the end users, depending on building usage? Particularly in the market sectors mentioned above?

It really depends on the building use, below are some examples of the benefits of a well-designed ventilation system that are integrated with Rubb’s fabric building solutions:

Military: Temperature control, moisture control, and eradication of vehicle fumes. Protection afforded to vehicles, equipment and troops.

Aviation: Moisture control and eradication of vehicle fumes, air supply for combustion purposes for heating – provides comfortable and safe working environment for aircraft maintenance crew.

Sport: Temperature control /free cooling, eradication of smells and excessive moisture, fresh air for occupants- also to maintain equipment and courts dry.

Ports: Temperature and humidity control – preservation of products and goods in General Industry – Process extraction – control of dust / fumes, temperature and moisture control to provide comfortable & safe environment for occupants / employees.

 

What do they offer in terms of added lifetime value?

In my experience, working with Rubb’s technical specialists to develop a robust and integrated HVAC strategy, a well-designed ventilation system along with using one of Rubb’s patented fabric structures will offer protection to the building and reduce energy consumption for the end user.

Are there any additional environmental advantages?

Because of Thermohall® design high level of insulation and low U-Values, the size of the HVAC systems are generally lower than standard single skin buildings which reduces the initial embodied energy of the system and on-going energy of the building thus reducing the carbon footprint of the building.

Can you describe any ventilation developments and solutions that relate to relevant legal codes that end users would find useful?

There are several building codes that have come into effect (or have been updated) over the past few years and it’s important to have up to date knowledge of these codes when designing a HVAC system. The following gives an overview of the key code changes that affect the industry:

Building Regulations Approved Document L – Conservation of Fuel & Power): Heat Recovery Ventilation / U-Values / Infiltration and air tightness testing.

(Building Regulations Approved Document F – Means of Ventilation) Requirements for provision of fresh air supply and extraction to buildings other than dwellings.

ERP Directive January 2016 – Inverter control of fan motors / specific fan powers.

F Gas requirements.

What developments, NPD, new technology, user needs and new solutions do see you at the forefront of the industry in the future?

There are several emerging areas of interest:

  • Solar powered ventilation systems
  • Demand ventilation
  • Secondary heat recuperation
  • Higher efficiency motors
  • Higher efficiency heat exchangers
  • Intelligent ventilation systems
  • Adiabatic cooling/ventilation systems

More information about Rubb’s HVAC offerings can be found here.