We all know what its like to be in an office environment or home without air conditioning, particularly if there’s an untypical heat wave across the UK, but how can we ensure when designing and constructing an ecologically sound building, that the ventilation system is eco-friendly ?
The simplest solution is to ensure windows, and ideally doors, are open as wide and as often as possible. There is, after all nothing more ecologically friendly than encouraging the air to circulate within a building by allowing as much to come in, and as much to escape, as possible.
Ensuring that the walls themselves are breathable is crucial too. Read through our pages on this site for more information about the construction materials available that can ensure the walls are breathable. A breathable wall simply means that air can pass through, while insulating at the same time.
Efficient systems of ventilation
Despite this, most buildings still need some sort of internal system to circulate air within them, to stop the build-up of stale air, to provide a healthier living space. Studies within hospitals have pointed some of the blame for recent outbreaks of disease at the air conditioning systems. Most of these systems, while controlling the air temperature in a regulated way, simply recycle the same stale air, and potentially air-borne parasites and gases are blasted at already sick and immune-weakened patients.
Other studies have also shown that people living in a naturally ventilated building feel more comfortable than in one that is air conditioned. But the site of the building, with factors such as topography and the proximity of other buildings and main roads, may well prevent this from being feasible.
Newer air-conditioning systems, such as the innovative eco-design being pioneered and installed at the Sandbrook primary school in the North-West Borough of Rochdale, have been developed to shift air currents that become blocked, and release air through specially designed wind towers. A series of louvered vents in each classroom connect to these, which expel air outward. Such systems can also store heat from the circulating air and use it as and when required, in conjunction with <#66#>solar heating systems<#>.
A key factor in the design of this system is that it uses less electricity, and is therefore more energy efficient. This is crucial in terms of the whole system being regarded as an ecologically friendly method of ventilation. It is just as important to have energy efficient methods of air circulation, as it is to have a good supply of fresh air to a building.