Welcoming visitors to the Self-Build Centre

The Unico System Small Duct High Velocity (SDHV) system has recently been installed in the reception area of the National Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon. The system has been linked with an air source heat pump to provide visitors with a comfortable indoor environment all year round. 

The National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) is the country’s only permanent venue for independent homebuilding advice and provides a showcase for some of the best building technologies and construction methods. Since becoming an employee-owned business in 2014, the facility has been continuously developed to ensure the optimum visitor experience for the thousands of self-builders, home improvers and building professionals who attend annually. The most recent initiative has been the installation of a new Unico System Small Duct High Velocity (SDHV) system in the reception area of the venue to welcome visitors with a comfortable indoor environment, whatever the time of year or the weather outside.

Cooling and heating

Air Craft, an indoor air comfort specialist and approved Specialist Partner for the Unico System, was responsible for the design and installation of the system. MD Darren Johnson believes that the all-in-one cooling and heating solution was the best technology to fulfil the project’s requirements. 

“The beauty is Unico’s ability to provide cooling and heating from one compact air handling unit and being able to match it with the latest environmentally friendly air source heat pump,” explains Darren. “In the summer, the 100+ square metre reception area, with its full width glazing, can be affected by elevated temperatures especially when many visitors can congregate there to register. Then in colder months the space needs heat and Unico can deliver that too.” 

High efficiency

The suspended ceiling above the reception had plenty of space for the installation of a Green Series Unico MB4260H Air Handling Unit (AHU). It features the latest variable speed control high efficiency fan, which is up to 62% more energy efficient than standard fixed speed motors, and Smart Control Board to ensure precise airflow control, easy commissioning and diagnostics.

One of the major advantages of the Unico System is its ability to be adapted for operation with the latest heat pump technology or other energy sources. In this case it uses a heat pump coil and a Daikin heat pump outdoor unit, using low environmental impact R32 refrigerant with significantly lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) compared with other refrigerants, and A++ seasonal efficiency. 

Customised control

To ensure compatibility between the two technologies, Unico and Daikin cooperated to develop a customised control box interface. Air Craft’s extensive experience helped to ensure that the required loading and technical performance for the AHU and the ASHP were carefully matched.

Aside from ensuring optimum comfort levels all year round, the Unico System also had to meet a number of other specification criteria including low operational noise with minimal disturbance in the reception area, even temperatures, and freedom from draughts as well as being a visually unobtrusive installation.

Quiet running

Cooled or heated air is delivered into the reception area through flexible supply tubing which culminates in 30 discreet small round outlets spaced equally across the reception ceiling.

The flow of air through the supply tubing and into the reception through the outlets generates minimal noise thanks to a sound attenuating construction, with its nylon tube core wrapped with insulation which also helps to reduce thermal losses. With aspiration technology, once the heated or cooled air enters the space at high velocity it creates a draught-free, even environment with minimal temperature fluctuations.

The system is controlled through a standard Daikin thermostatic control which is linked to the control box. “Multiple traditional air conditioning units would have been a totally impractical solution, because of the number of units needed and the space required to mount them,” explains Darren. “The Daikin Altherma 3 Monobloc air source heat pump does not require an indoor unit.” 

Minimal disruption

The installation was completed by Air Craft with minimal disruption in the daytoday operation of the reception area. Following rigorous testing it was fully operational in time for the NSBRC’s series of open days in May this year. 

“One of the core aims of the NSBRC is to inspire visitors by highlighting the best technology and practice,” says Harvey Fremlin, MD of the facility. “This is now also being demonstrated right at the ‘meet and greet’ stage as visitors feel but not see the effect and performance of small duct HVAC technology.”

For more information about the Unico System, please visit: www.unicosystem.co.uk

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