A high thermal mass building – comfort levels a high priority

Concept architect Teather+Walls set out to design a building – situated at Reepham College, Norfolk – that would take account of current needs for the lowest running costs and the effects that climate change might have in the future. 

The Concrete Society commended the award-winning construction, saying

This is a very interesting and successful use of precast concrete in new innovative ways. Concrete as used here clearly contributes to energy conservation and internal physical comfort.

Cooler in summer – warmer in winter

Concrete ceilings in the building were left exposed to exploit the ability of concrete to act as a large ‘radiator’ providing a cooling effect in summer and warmth in the winter. These qualities have been enhanced by the inclusion of advanced environmental systems in the design, providing controls over both temperatures and CO² levels.

In summer, the building can benefit from night purge, with the cool night air automatically allowed in via electrically controlled apertures to lower the fabric temperature, resulting in high daytime comfort levels. This removes the need for expensive cooling systems.

In winter, the high ‘built in’ insulation levels of the precast concrete walls and proprietary fenestration minimise the amount of heat ‘spilled’ from the building.

The use of twin-skinned insulated panels provides a 20% improvement over Building Regulation U values, making a useful contribution to the BREEAM rating. Tarmac precast sandwich wall panels supplied to site came complete with integrated insulation.