Haven House

Haven House

Since opening in 2003, Haven House supports families by providing respite and end-of-life care for babies, children and young people. It has helped more than 900 families, looking after children who have life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. The locally-listed building, formerly a family home, is set in four acres of protected woodland and is a safe and welcoming environment. A recent extension and refurbishment has extended the reach of the hospice

In common with many older buildings, overheating was a real problem. Public areas and intensive care bedrooms were overheating during warmer months. The two-storey building has a large loft area with little ventilation, and vital medical equipment in rooms generate additional heat, making conditions uncomfortable for residents, staff and visitors.

DJ Higgins Brief: The client’s brief was to ensure that children and other users of the building were protected from uncomfortably warm temperatures, without introducing draughts or noise disturbance, to ensure that they were as comfortable as possible at all times..

A traditional air conditioning installation approach raised concerns that by operating on a high-GWP HFC refrigerant, the system would prove expensive to maintain in the future due to the phase-down of these substances under the F-Gas Regulations.

Working with Toshiba UK, David J Higgins Consulting produced a design based on Toshiba RAV Super Digital and RAS Mirai split systems operating on low GWP refrigerant R32. This provided a long-term solution not subject to restrictions under the current F-Gas Regulations. Equipped with a high-power inverter for fine control, it also met the client’s requirements for energy efficiency, reliability and quiet operation.

Due to the building’s listed status, careful planning was required to ensure both outdoor and indoor units were positioned sensitively with respect to the building’s design and fabric. In addition, the presence of intensive care systems in bedrooms required a meticulous approach to ensure refrigerant pipework was carefully routed and indoor units installed so as not to interfere with access or its operation.

The compact design and dimensions of Toshiba’s new R32 indoor units helped meet this requirement, while the system’s low GWP and energy efficiency matched the client’s environmental objectives. The installation was carried out by Ongar-based contractor AM Air Conditioning (UK) Ltd, which worked with main contractor Chigwell Construction on the refurbishment project.

Mike Palfreman, chief executive of Haven House, told Toshiba: “An important part of the care we provide to children and their families is to ensure they are as comfortable as possible. Maintaining stable temperatures in rooms and public areas, without creating noise disturbance or draughts, is a key aspect of this. The new system was only installed recently but is already transforming comfort conditions. In the coming Spring and Summer, as outside temperatures rise, we expect it to really come into its own.”

David Higgins, of DJ Higgins Consulting Ltd, who headed up the project design, said: “The overheating experienced in the building, especially on the upper floor, was potentially distressing to the children, their families and staff at Haven House. We were delighted to help solve the problem, and the attention and care shown by AM Air Conditioning and Toshiba were entirely in keeping with Haven House’s mission.”

He added: “The client’s brief was challenging and required significant thought and design to deliver a discreet and effective solution. Feedback has been positive, and it is a great feeling to know you have done something to help those people who demonstrate so much commitment and positivity on a daily basis.”