School “portables” are not the rickety, beige hot-boxes they used to be. These days modular classrooms are far better designed to cater both to student comfort, as well as to growing student numbers.
But a company in New South Wales, called Hivve Technology, is taking intelligent portable design to another level, designing holistic modular building systems that don’t just save energy, but generate it.
The company – an offshoot of NSW education infrastructure company EPB – will this week trial two of its cutting edge classrooms, themselves known as “Hivves”, which will use solar to generate enough energy not only to meet their own demand, but that of a further two classrooms.
That is, while a regular school classroom can consume an average of 3,800KWh a year, HIVVE claims that its classroom, when in use, generates an estimated net of 7,600KWh per year.
The Hivves, pictured above, incorporate rooftop solar PV, real time energy metering, carbon dioxide metering, data capture and communications to actively manage energy demands and control indoor environment quality. They are also fully air conditioned.
The pilot program, which has won $369,115 in backing from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, will trial the classrooms at St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School in Holsworthy in Sydney’s south western suburbs and at Dapto High School in Dapto.
The performance of the two propotype Hivve classrooms will be monitored and evaluated over a 12 month period – data is collected at 15 minute intervals – to measure their potential to improve the learning environment of students, and reduce the schools’ reliance on the grid.
“This is a great way to get the next generation involved in renewables at an early age and educate them as to what the positive benefits will be as Australia continues its shift towards a renewable energy future,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht in comments on Wednesday.
“The success of the Hivve project could lead to a nation-wide adoption of the modular classrooms, reducing reliance on the grid and even providing a significant amount of electricity back to the NEM.”
Hivve Director David Wrench said the concept was conceived and designed to deliver sustainable solutions – both environmental and economic – to help meet Australia’s growing school infrastructure needs.
“We are very pleased to be partnering with ARENA on this exciting project. We have carefully designed every element of the Hivve classroom to create the best possible learning environment for students”, he said.