There is great excitement as Howe Dell School opens its doors to its pupils this month on the old de Havilland runway site at Hatfield where the Comet, the first passenger jet aircraft, was built in 1949.
This buzz and excitement comes not only from the bright new building visible above the ground, but also from the innovative, ecologically sensitive, invisible heating elements beneath the ground.
Howe Dell School is the first building in the world to benefit from Interseasonal Heat Transfer designed by ICAX Limited.
The School, like most buildings in Britain, enjoys many hours of sunshine over the summer months. The surface of the playground attracts heat and will often be more than 15°C higher than the air temperature on a sunny day.
Most buildings waste all the surplus heat they receive. However, Howe Dell has been designed to capture it by means of water circulating through a series of pipes just beneath the surface of the playground and store it in an insulated Thermal Bank constructed beneath the foundations of the building.
The heat is stored until needed to heat the school on winter days when it is released under computer control through heat pumps to achieve the desired temperature.
The school, which has been designed with a high level of heat insulation, also captures solar energy though roof top collectors to pre-heat water for use in the school kitchens and washing facilities. Surplus heat from this source is also integrated into the Interseasonal Heat Transfer system (especially in the hot summer holidays when the school is empty) and stored for winter use.
The Headteacher, Debra Massey, believes strongly in education for sustainable development, and the children are learning in a unique school which is the embodiment of it.
“The IHT Thermal Bank beneath the school is the foundation of a set of environmentally sensitive elements incorporated into Howe Dell School that brings alive the teaching of eco principles to the children,” said Debra. “Our curriculum has sustainable education principles at its core, encouraging pupils to take responsibility for the future of their own environment."
IET Faraday has the aim of introducing a new generation of children to the sheer excitement of science, technology and engineering. It has made a short film on Howe Dell School and Interseasonal Heat Transfer featuring Mark Hewitt and Chani Leahong: Green School and a web page which explains Interseasonal Heat Transfer to children.