Collaboration & technology innovation help to improve indoor air quality in NSW classrooms - Education Matters Magazine
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Collaboration & technology innovation help to improve indoor air quality in NSW classrooms

We’ve all experienced the difference a comfortable environment can make to our mood and concentration levels. Temperature, humidity and CO2 levels all impact our body and the way we retain information and learn.

The New South Wales Department of Education (NSWDOE) is acting on this science and delivering a $500 million project called the Cooler Classrooms program.

The program sees the rollout of climate control solutions across 900 schools in the state, with sustainable air conditioning, heating and fresh air ventilation systems installed to improve indoor environments and air quality.

Doug McMillan, CEO of GSTEC, a building automation and electro-mechanical technology provider, responded to a request for suggested solutions from a member of the early design team.

The company holds EcoXpert master certification and has been using their expertise to develop a package for the program that uses Schneider Electric products to create a scalable and serviceable solution.

The industry unique EcoXpert Partner Program provides training and certification to create a best-in-class global ecosystem of expertise. EcoXperts can be trusted to carry out complex solutions across a wide range of products and applications.

A consistent outcome

Doug’s approach supports the use of local electrical contractors to undertake the work (a necessary requirement as the project extends across the entire state) while providing a consistent outcome for all of the project stakeholders.

“I wanted a solution that would allow us to offer the optimum technical solution to the schools, and one that could be maintained and supported no matter the remoteness of the location,” Doug says.

“Engineering these packages and then supporting a local contractor to carry out the installation has multiple benefits – the department has a control package which is consistent across multiple sites; the contractor has access to Australian based technical support; and the school has someone local they can call upon for service or to carry out extensions and upgrades – often a contractor that has a pre-existing relationship with the school.”

GSTEC’s solution for the Cooler Classroom program provides the local contractor with everything they need to get the job done.

The package includes a 4G managed router, a Schneider Electric RP-C SmartX IP Controller and Schneider Electric peripheral devices including outdoor temperature and humidity sensors and SmartX Living Space Sensors for measuring classroom space temperatures and CO2 levels. It also includes full documentation to facilitate installation and commissioning.

Offering year-round comfort, the solution alerts teachers and students when additional fresh air is needed to address indoor air quality needs. The sensors also notify those in the classroom when the weather outside is optimal for opening windows, to reduce unnecessary energy use.

“Our role is to supply, engineer and commission the package,” Doug says. “As an EcoXpert we also support the local contractor through the installation and commissioning process, by remotely accessing the system or providing phone support as required.”

Keeping it simple

Part of the brief for this project was that the solution had to be designed to limit unauthorised access by end users to the system while being simple and intuitive in its operation. Further, NSWDOE were keen to remove any potential points of failure in both design and operation.

The five-year Cooler Classrooms program is now approaching its third year, and GSTEC has been involved in a number of individual projects with a variety of contractors– demonstrating the effectiveness of Doug’s approach.

Doug notes that his solution has now been included in the NSWDOE’s Cooler Classrooms standard specification.

Future connectivity

“A further advantage of this solution is that schools who have had this package installed will be able to access the Schneider Electric product’s networking and monitoring capabilities in the future. This will allow for deployment of extended capabilities such as energy monitoring, indoor air quality measurement and verification, and online firmware and security upgrades.”

“We are strong supporters of Schneider Electric and the EcoXpert program because we appreciate Schneider’s substantial and ongoing investment into research and development. In an industry such as ours, where change is continuous, new products and front of the curve solutions are a must. Schneider Electric supports our business and our clients by facilitating the sales and developing and supporting the products we need to operate successfully in the market.”

For more information about the Schneider Electric EcoXpert program or to find an EcoXpert to discuss your project, visit se.com/au/ecoxpert.