Cooling a Big Building. Like Stadium Big.

It’s been a stormy year for international relations with Russia.

Allegations of spies and dramatic poisonings flew as fast as a persona non grata diplomat could hurry to the airport. Surely things could only get better. Well maybe, many will now hope that this is the opportunity to build bridges and foster better relations. 

Forget Russia we’ve been thinking Qatar

Whilst the armchair analysts may be discussing Russia right now, our thoughts have been on something else – the problems of cooling large open spaces. In particular something as big as an open air sports stadium. OK it’s not a common problem for the UK, but how about somewhere like Qatar…

So what’s the problem?

The thing is June in Doha is hot. Very hot. Close to 50 degrees C actually. And right now Qatar are feavourishly building some rather magnificent stadia. You see the controversy here has nothing to do with the secretive world of spies. No, it is something far more mundane, but perhaps just as important for health and safety, air conditioning! 

And as cooling engineers with a vast experience in air conditioning and evaporative cooling (we were one of the first into the UK with this fabulous cooling technology) we were intrigued to know just how Qatar proposed to keep it’s stadia occupants – players or spectators – cool?

So what’s the answer?

To be fair it was a question everybody was asking, and one Qatar was prepared for. Their promise involved the kind of air-conditioning technology so advanced it could quite possibly cool the star ship Enterprise on an excursion through a molten meteor field. Actually it was that they could cool a stadium, training pitch and spectator areas to a comfortable 23 degrees C, no sweat. Then to prove the point they went ahead and built a 500-seater prototype stadium to show just how it could work. 

So how are they doing it? How can they really keep the huge open air stadiums cooled and air conditioned?

It’s called District Cooling it’s all about geography and innovative thinking

Well, the technology is called ‘District Cooling’. It is claimed to be 40% more efficient than traditional air conditioning would be on this scale. And it’s not a new thing, it was first used in Finland. But as a means to cool stadia of this scale it is new and pretty special.

The process begins with an energy centre that is located 1 kilometre away from the stadium. This uses the latest energy efficient HVAC technology to produce chilled water which is then sent to the stadium. This avoids the need for air conditioners or air chillers on site. The chilled water is then converted into cold air which is pushed onto the field and into the spectator areas so as to drastically reduce the temperature. Over 500 nozzles have been placed around the stadium to allow air to flow to the specific areas identified as strategically important. Critically, the roof has been designed so that it prevents the escape of cold air from the stadium and keeps spectators shaded, but yet still allows sufficient sunlight to enter for the grass to grow.

Proof is in… the stadium!

It appears to work! Take the recent football match between China and Qatar at a newly revamped stadium featuring the new air conditioning system. The outdoor temperature was 39 degrees Celsius, and the new cooling system managed to maintain an impressive 23 degree temperature throughout the playing area and stands.

So what?

Now we hear you say, that may be lovely, and yes it is a great engineering achievement, but how is it relevant to me back here in temperate old Blighty?

Thing is, not only is great cooling a necessity when playing elite level football in the height of a Gulf summer (or even winter) in a stadium, it is also a necessity if you or your team are going to perform your best at work in an office or factory. The message is simple, and one we at Clean Air have been harping on about for many years – comfort in the workplace is essential to achieve optimal productivity from staff.

Time to think as an athlete would

Fact is, just as a footballer and athlete is able to compete to the best of their abilities in a comfortably cooled stadium, an office or warehouse worker will perform best when in a comfortable working environment – one that is not too hot or cold and which enjoys fresh and unpolluted air. A NASA study has found that human productivity falls 4.7% for every degree over 30⁰C. 

With forecasters across the country now predicting a three month heatwave across the UK leading to the ‘the hottest summer in twelve years’, there has never been a better time to look at getting suitable cooling in place to keep your team comfortable. Anything less is just an own goal!

So, be it professional football team or spectator in the stand, you may just have more in common than you think. Truth is we all need to keep cool to be at our best, and it is just as much a necessity as it is a treat to work in a climate controlled environment.