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Fresher air


I refer to your article on the problems faced at PFI schools in Exeter (NCE 17 May).

The issues raised appear to be a classic case of overreliance on traditional views of school design where natural ventilation can provide adequate air changes per hour to meet the design standards and where the design of the envelope ignores its effect on the internal environment.

What appears to be happening now is that in PFI the environment is the responsibility of another party and the temperatures are recorded to regulate performance payments.

Local uthorities find chools are now raising their expectations and enforcing promised outputs. While these schools have an obvious problem now there is a significant temperature increase predicted over the life of most PFI concessions, coupled with an increase in temperature extremes.

What is surprising is that the investors in these schemes do not appear to be taking on board the raft of information published by the BRE and others and also the effect on their liabilities over the period of their concessions.

Hopefully stories such as the one that you published, coupled with the success stories, such as the Whitecross PFI School in Hereford, can consign poorly conceived, naturally ventilated secondary schools to history.

Mark Wakeford, managing director, Stepnell Ltd, Lawford Road, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21 2UU

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