Image of the outside of Magaret PS School

Ontario School Ramps Up IAQ With Economical, Efficient Ventilation System

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When people think of Canadian weather, their initial thoughts are snowy winter days and frigid nights. Summer in Canada is overlooked—it can be hot and humid, especially in the region of Southwestern Ontario and one of the province’s hottest cities, Windsor. Combined with very cold winters, the temperature ranges are extreme, from -15°C to 30°C (-4°F to 86°F).

Ventilation for schools in this region becomes a challenge because choosing the right system to maintain comfort in a classroom requires equipment that can handle temperature and humidity swings from the middle of winter to the summer and shoulder seasons. When Vince Laframboise, former Mechanical Project Manager for the Greater Essex County District School Board, was planning a massive ventilation project during the COVID pandemic, he knew his challenge was different: How to provide better comfort for students and staff during the pandemic. When the Federal Governments COVID Resilience Infrastructure Stream (CVRIS) funding was being released and the demand for ventilation from the industry was already facing extremely long lead times, he had to act quickly.

Unitary energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) are well-known to handle this type of situation. But while standalone ERVs can provide fresh air, often their leaving air temperatures (LAT) fall short of providing optimal conditions when ducted directly into spaces, especially in trying to reduce or condition humidity; therefore, these projects all included remote VRV (variable refrigerant volume) conditioning coils (heat pumps) to further condition the air.

Nine schools needed serious ventilation upgrades in a very short amount of time. One of the schools was Margaret D. Bennie Public School in Leamington, Ontario, originally built in 1960.

For the engineering team, the biggest challenge was working within the confines of the school’s existing footprint, as is the case with many rehab projects. Ultimately, the roof was the most logical and economical choice for installing the Systemair Geniox+ air handler with VRF, which would incorporate dehumidification and heat pump into the ventilation system.

Geniox+ provides a turnkey solution that marries the VRF system and the manufacturer coil into a single air handler, eliminating the hassle of on-site integration of systems and controls. Systemair incorporated a Mitsubishi LEV kit at the factory, allowing for plug-and-play installation on the roof and a straightforward method to supply fresh air with the VRF system.

This was a project that was initiated from the COVID virus; the school board wanted to do as much as they could for indoor air quality, so ventilation in existing schools was a major priority,” said Jon Palmer, account manager for Trane of Southwest Ontario, who served as the Sales Engineer and Systemair representative for the project. “With the addition of the heat pump and dehumidification coil that was added in the Geniox system, not only did the ventilation improve but also the indoor comfort level during the cooling season.”

Geniox air handlers are extremely versatile, with a modular platform that allows for complete configurability of heat and energy recovery, cooling, filtration, mixing, and other elements to meet the needs of each individual project.

“This process was fairly easy—the owner directed the engineer of what he wanted, and once the owner was on board with this product it was an easy process with the engineer,” Palmer recalled. “The overall system uses very little energy, yet there is a big difference in indoor comfort in the summer season with the addition of this unit.”

The local school board was also pleased with the results: They reported that the school district’s indoor air quality scores have increased dramatically since the install of Systemair ERVs, while energy consumption has only increased 0.4%.

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