Flop Green Passive School Is Suffocating Its Students

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One way to indoctrinate children on living green is to teach them in a green passive school that requires little energy consumption. This is what they are attempting in East German Schwarzheide, as reported at the online Lausitzer Rundschau daily.

 There’s only one small problem: The lesson in living repsonsibly to protect the climate has backfired. The school’s ventilation is so bad that it is making students and teachers get ill by the score. Hat-tip: EIKE.

In general, a passive building typically has very low air infiltration from outside and is heavily insulated to ensure low thermal heat loss. Indeed heating requirements can be as low as 15 kwh per square meter of occupancy space per year. In the wintertime air intake is heated, and in the summertime the building uses the cool night air along with lots of shading for cooling. These types of buildings, at least in north Germany, are not equipped with air conditioning.

Unfortunately at the Schwarzheide SeeCampus school in Niederlausitz, the climate system in the school building doesn’t work like the architectural models thought it would. According to the Lausitzer Rundschau:

Pupils and teachers dread every school day at the SeeCampus. If the deodorant of just one person fails to work, then half the classroom goes into a coma. The ventilation in the exemplary passive building is a catastrophe. There’s an extreme lack of fresh air on hot days. Because of concern over the health of the children, who complain about headaches and fatigue, parents are threatening to stop operation of the school through legal action.

The school building SeeCampus in Niederlausitz becomes completely overheated on summer days and is badly ventilated. Headaches and cardio-respiratory problems with pupils and teachers are the result. The number of sick days is climbing rapidly.”

According to the website of the proud window and door supplier, Wiegand, the 3-storey €23 million school was built in 15 months and was dedicated during a party-like ceremony in February 2011 by Brandenburg State Minister President Platzeck, and State Council member Heinze accepted the Certificate from the Passive Building Institute.

Pupils and teachers being used as human guinea pigs to test the green experiment. Despite all the complaints, authorities have taken no action and are playing down the problems. According to teacher and administrator Andrea Eisenblätter:

 The air is dry. Because of the lack of oxygen, many students constantly have headaches. Concentration is near zero. How is anyone supposed to get proper grades?“

Parent Frank Klonowska from the town of Lauchhammer says:

It is suffocatingly warm, you can hardly breath. I was completely drenched in sweat after just 3 minutes. It is simply incomprehensible that the technical design of the ventilation system at the SeeCampus even got approved.”

In the end expect hundreds of thousands of euros more to be spent on proper ventilation and climate control, and expect much more than the ballyhooed 15 kwh/m²/year to be consumed. Or, in the worst case, expect the place to be taken over by the weeds soon.

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19 responses to “Flop Green Passive School Is Suffocating Its Students”

  1. Harry Dale Huffman

    You have to watch out for weeds, because they are like the ocean. Well yes, they are both practically endless, there is that. But for all those who are scared witless by nightmares — such as imminent climate catastrophe — it is far worse (than we thought). The ocean, as “Jaws” taught everyone, is full of man-eating sharks; and, as “Triffids” showed us, weeds are full of man-eating Triffids. So, don’t swim in the ocean, and don’t do any weeding (especially any weed that is man-sized) outside your own backyard, and certainly not until we can get all that CO2 pollution out of the air. (I am convinced there is something in the air that explains all this.)

  2. Ron Henry

    Thank you, Mr. Gosselin, for bring to the attention of the world another green engineering horror story from the country with a reputation for excellence in engineering without equal. How much worse will the green/sustainable engineering catastrophes be in countries with less exulted engineering traditions? In the future, will Germany become known as the land of toxic buildings, weed-covered solar panels, and corroded wind turbines?

  3. Ed Caryl

    One thing that U. S. readers may not know: German schools run year around, in 6 week sessions with one or two weeks break between. So there are sessions in mid-summer.

  4. DirkH

    It’s a Hansen Air Conditioning.

  5. biggreenlie

    Good post!…so this is basically what awaits us all who will be “herded” into “Agenda 21” urban densification that the UN and all the Governments of the world are pushing right now.
    Passive heating, high rise, cheaply built dense buildings housing all the poor folk who won’t need cars to stumble off to their meaningless jobs……………
    Expect more horror stories like this as the “Greenies” dreams come true!

  6. DirkH

    O/T
    Climate Change: Still Waiting For The Megatrend
    5 years after AIT, Green Investment funds and certificates still underperform compared to the market (i.e. you’re losing money)
    http://www.ftd.de/finanzen/derivate/:portfolio-megatrend-laesst-auf-sich-warten/60071271.html
    “Denn die zum Teil deutlich gesunkenen Kurse könnten jetzt eine gute Möglichkeit sein, sich relativ günstig das Thema Klimawandel ins Portfolio zu holen. ”
    “The current low quotes could be a good opportunity to get on the climate change bandwagon.”

    My opinion: The ftd is a caricature of an economics paper and pursues criminal investor desinformation. Do *NOT* listen to their advice. You have been warned.

  7. John Shade

    Demented buildings from demented ‘thinkers’ too busy emoting about the end of the world to notice their own foolishness. Here is another example:
    http://climatelessons.blogspot.com/2011/02/learning-by-metaphor-foolish-building.html

    ‘Simple arithmetic would have shown this building to be a foolish one, yet it was constructed.

    Modern technology would have made a better building than this one, yet it was constructed.

    The importance of the building as a gesture, no matter how absurd, outweighs, for some, all other considerations:
    “Headteacher Jill Hughes defended the project and said she hoped classes would be held in the classroom when the weather gets warmer. She said: ‘We’re delighted to have the Living Ark – its a tremendous resource both for the school and the local community and is an important part of the Muswell Hill low carbon zone initiative.’ ” ‘

  8. M White

    Sounds like a good place to spread a virus

  9. TimiBoy

    Where are the Trolls? I miss them…

  10. Edward

    In England we have some monumental school building follies, designed to exhibit the prowess of the architect and engineers.
    With fat chance of consideration of the buildings future young charges – it ain’t how, where, who, it’s about dogma and: shiny new palaces devoted to inculcation and indoctrination into a Socialist ‘new world order’.

    I thought schools were built to provide a safe and secure environment for the education of children, this [Schwarzheide school] savagely austere building is a nightmare vision in concrete.

    It’s time we stopped using children as ‘guinea pigs’ and treated them with care and with due respect, they’re all someones daughter or son after-all.

    Let them learn the basics; Maths, Reading, writing and develop cogent thought processes……later they can make up their minds [on other subjects] in tertiary education.

    “Hey deranged social engineer! – leave them kids alone…”

  11. Bruce of Newcastle

    Be interesting to know what the radon concentration is inside those buildings, given the hysteria about all things nuclear right now.

  12. Robin Pittwood

    So they did this to help reduce CO2 outside the building by about 0.0000005%. Meanwhile inside the building they increased it by 5000% INSIDE the building. So silly. So very, very silly. [I guessed the numbers]

  13. sunsettommy

    bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

  14. Ulrich Elkmann

    “what the radon concentration is inside those buildings” – things like that are never measured, and even hazarding a guess is impossible (how much comes from the ground – depending on the kind of rock it sits on, how well is it isolated, how much comes from the concrete used, etc.) – but it’s a safe guess to say that you would need a sample of several million people to be able to point to a minuscle rise in cancer, predominantly nonlethal, and only if you ignore all other factors (such harmless things as chain smoking or genetic disposition). All besides the point, since such radiation is part of nature’s boon; only man-made radiation from evil atomic piles causes harm. Case in point: only benighted sceptics are likely to point out that reporters covering Fukushima from Japan pick up more radiation during their flights than in all of their stay over there.

    1. DirkH

      The effect of Radon should be significant, as you inhale it when it’s in the air. So, far bigger effect than radiation coming from the concrete of the house around you.
      ” According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking, causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radon

      Alpha and beta decays over a chain of four shortlived daughter products… Gee, alpha particles in your lungs! They’re Helium cores and can do a lot of damage over short distances.

      1. Joe

        What’s dangerous about radon is that it comes in the form of a radioactive particulate. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. If you live in a radon area, caulk the joint in any concrete floors you have that are immediately over soil. Use two separated applications of a butyl based sealant, as it never really dries out, maintaining a bond with both sides of the joint.

  15. Joe

    I thought we maxed out the stupidity index here in America with LEED and 30 years of overinsulating despite the regional peculiarities of temperature and humidity, but Passivhaus is about the biggest waste of effort and resources I’ve ever seen in my profession.

    It’s a Greenie wet dream: it genuinely accomplishes nothing and requires the expediture of resourses.

  16. Joe

    On a professional note: they failed to do one thing that they SHOULD, and I suppose they did it to Passivhaus the insulation, and do it on the cheap. Besides, the lack of “make up air”, that is to say fresh air that gets used up merely by breathing, they are certainly in violation.

    I’m not aware of any building code on earth that lets you not force fresh air in. Heaven forbid that they are in a radon area.

    What they certainly didn’t do, which is a good thing to do is to use an enthalpy type energy recovery system for the fresh air supply. It uses latent energy in the air being forced out of the building to “temper” the fresh air entering the building, roughly 2/3 of that heat or cold, in fact.

    Any professional who simply argues that they should open the windows is an arrogant oaf. Half of the effort in heating or cooling involves humidity control. With exception of 2-3 weeks per year, opening the windows will just force into overdrive any A/C or Heating system because it lets in the humid or very dry air that the system expends energy trying to keep out.

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