Climate solutions - a valuable temporary fix

The hydrotherapy facility in the Stranraer Academy serves an important purpose in the education of children with Severe and Complex Learning Difficulties. However, due to condensation and a failing air conditioning system, the facility had to be closed to prevent substantial water damage. Luckily, the Polygon UK team was able to provide a quick fix, so that the facility could remain usable until further repair can take place.

Established over 175 years ago, Stranraer Academy today serves close to 1,000 pupils of all abilities from the surrounding area in Southwest Scotland. The school is able to support children with Severe and Complex Learning Difficulties thanks to the skills of its team and the facilities within the AIRD Centre, a specialist unit that includes teaching areas, a multi-sensory room and also a hydrotherapy pool.

For the pupils and private clients that use the AIRD Centre, the pool with its heated water is vital for supporting physical and mental wellbeing. During the summer break in 2022, however, a fault with the extraction fan housed within the main HVAC system rendered the hydrotherapy pool unusable. A lack of air conditioning meant that air moisture in the room built to critical levels, leading it to condensate on the cold tiles. With water literally running down the walls, the pool area was forced to close.

This left the Stranraer Academy with the need to carry out disruptive repair work involving the stripping of the defective HVAC system, which is sited above the pump room and toilet areas in the roof void. Unless a short-term solution could urgently be found, this disruptive repair work would need to be carried out during term time, forcing returning pupils and private hire clients to source an alternative facility. For the school, this was an unviable position.

Following a recommendation by the school’s facility management company, Polygon UK was assigned to combat the problem with a temporary fix. Working quickly, Polygon was able to conduct a thorough assessment of the hydrotherapy pool facility, reporting its findings the following day. A solution to provide the facility with a system of dehumidifiers and fans was then made, in order to keep the facility usable. With careful measurement of air humidity, temperature levels and calculations of the thermal load, a suitable system was tailored to the exact needs of the space. Furthermore, with children having access to the space, Polygon’s technicians also specified and engineered bespoke protective covers for the dehumidifier unit to eliminate any possible risk of injury.

In just a matter of days, the alternative system implemented by Polygon meant the hydrotherapy pool was up and running again in time for the school term. This prevented parents from having to source alternative specialist facilities for their children and ensured no revenues were lost from private hire cancellations. For the school, the short-term solution provided valuable breathing space that can be used to carefully plan and source the more fundamental reparation work on the faulty permanent system. This will allow the work to be completed efficiently, cost effectively and with minimal impact on those who depend on the AIRD Centre’s hydrotherapy pool.

Charles Stirling, Polygon’s Area Director of Scotland Temporary Climate Solutions, comments the project: “We are very pleased to have been able to support Stranraer Academy in answering this challenge. At Polygon, we are always focused on engineering tailored climate solutions that are right first time, but it is particularly rewarding to know that our work here has made a difference to a facility that is so important to children and families in the area.”

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