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Church View, Doncaster

The key research questions for the conversion of a 1930s art college into managed workspace are:

  • Can the building be adapted to prevent overheating in 2080?
  • Can the adaptations be implemented incrementally room by room?
  • Can the adaptations be implemented within the maintenance cycle?
  • Are the adaptations commercially viable – what is the payback period?
  • Can the conflicts between conservation and climate adaptation be resolved?

The following design solutions were considered:

  • adaptations to windows
  • adaptations to fabric
  • adaptations to natural ventilation
  • adaptation through use of soft landscape and water
  • adaptation through managing internal gains
  • adaptation of behaviour.

We also considered the impact of “anti-adaptation” trends: increasing occupancy and increasing hours occupancy/day. We have chosen to use the UKCIP02 weather files as they are robust and understood sources. As a metric we are using the recently developed adaptive comfort threshold. We used IES to model eight rooms within the building with varied conditions.

Further project details

1. What approach did you take in assessing risks and identifying adaptation measures to mitigate the risks?

We have chosen to use the UKCIP02 weather files as they are robust and understood sources. We are using the Nottingham information as opposed to Leeds as required under regulations. This is due to the fact that the building is about equidistant between the two and Leeds is an understood to be anomalous when considering overheating. It is felt that the Nottingham file represents a more accurate prediction of future conditions.

As a metric we are using the recently developed adaptive comfort threshold. We feel that this more accurately represents the human perception of overheating and reflects the fact that people will be generally more accustomed to higher temperatures in the future.

Robust methodologies have also been developed to measure the impact of adaptation interventions that are not directly able to be modelled in building physics software. These include the concept of assigning overheating metrics to individuals rather than rooms to enable the effect of behaviour change to be quantified.

2. How have you communicated the risks and recommendations with your client? What methods worked well?

We started the project by facilitating a “bunker day” workshop for all design team, client, specialists, FM, planners and building control officers to launch the project and establish key issues. The day was exceptionally successful, a great learning curve for all and a common agenda was established. Also the client expressed full support for the project.

After completing phase one of modelling we held a second meeting, in February 2011, with the client, business planners, facilities management advisor, and the design team to discuss the outcomes.

3. What tools have you used to assess overheating and flood risks?

Our projects was about overheating only – the tools we used are:

  • software Archicad for 3D model and su studies and IES for overheating modelling
  • UKCIP02 weather files and adaptive comfort thresholds.

4. What has the client agreed to implement as a result of your adaptation work?

In response to outcomes of phase one modelling the client instructed us to investigate incorporation of tree shading, ceiling fans and vertical blinds into phase one of the project that was due to be completed on site in April 2011.

The blinds and fans were installed but the trees required planning application due to proximity to the boundary wall and there was insufficient time available to implement this.

5. What were the major challenges so far in doing this adaptation work?

The IES model is prone to simplification of understanding-many adaptations such as Albedo effect and cooling from plants and form ceiling fans, cannot be measured. This means that some of the accuracy is lost when making assumptions to substitute for actual data.

Many reiterations were required of modelling as assumptions were refined and gremlins removed from the modelling.

The unknown aspects of future technologies and behaviour will require a degree of guesswork that will require this research to be frequently updated.

Base data, such as weather files for Leeds, contains misleading information and requires adjustments of assumptions.

The learning for the whole team is greater than originally anticipated.

6. What advice would you give others undertaking adaptation strategies?

A bunker day model to kick off the project and/or review the findings.

Staged modelling strategy that allows environmental modelling results to be fed back into early design/ adaption strategies.

Cross checking modelling assumptions with the whole design team and especially the FM team regarding how the building will be used, this is vital when considering future trends. Standard practice rules of thumb can be significantly different to how the specific building is expected to be used and will often have a huge implication on performance.
Plan of Church View building, Doncaster