Don’t be fooled, even the most outdoorsy person spends a great deal indoors. Apart from the fact that we spend a lot of time indoors because we are safe from the elements and other external threats, indoor environments are designed to meet other occupants’ needs like resting, being productive, or even having fun. A rule of thumb is to take your age and multiply it by 0.9. Vualá, that’s the time you have spent indoors so far.
Nowadays buildings are fully equipped with all sorts of things in an effort to make occupants’ life better, healthier, or even more creative. If we take as an example a modern house, we will find modern gym equipment, connected lights to create an atmosphere, smart vacuum cleaners, etc. If we take as an example an office building, we will find automation in the entrance with automated doors, fire alarms, elevators, etc.
What those places have in common in most cases is an Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system that controls the air that enters inside the building, and in the most basic configuration it controls the temperature. This basic configuration though is not the best approach because ambient air isn’t as clean as you may think. Climate change has driven even more extreme wildfires and meteorological conditions like dust storms which worsen ambient air quality. Traffic and wood burning stoves in residential areas are also deteriorating air quality significantly.
For these reasons, HVAC systems are reimagined by companies in an effort to meet the standards set by green building certificates schemes like RESET, WELL, Fitwel, BREEAM, etc. Recently, I learned about Aspiration Efficiency and how it can reduce the amount of particulate matter that enters the HVAC systems without any filtration medium and pressure drop (aka higher energy consumption). For HVAC systems with filters, this technique increases significantly the filters’ lifespan. For more info visit this link.
You may wonder what is a Green Building. According to World Green Building Councils a green building is
a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life.
Most importantly, in the last few years (maybe COVID19 has pushed them towards that direction) they focus heavily on a good indoor environmental air quality. Temperature, humidity, particulate matter, chemicals (VOCs) and carbon dioxide are some of the major indoor environmental parameters that are monitored and responsible for controlling HVAC systems automatically in order to ensure that occupants are safe, productive, and healthy.
Healthy buildings, though, are not only made of clean air. The right illumination with plenty of natural light sources, low noise, and landscape views are also important for the mental health of the occupants, and they are also taken into account once you want to obtain a green building certification.
All in all, you can understand that it doesn’t matter if you are an active outdoorsy person or not, indoor environments will have an impact on your physical and mental being. The most logical approach is to design buildings according to our biological needs. Excellent indoor air quality is fundamental for healthy occupants because you, your parents, your kids, and your friends are all going to breathe indoor air. Keep in mind, in a single intake of air, your lungs swell with roughly 25 sextillion molecules that reach every fiber of your being. Make sure those 25 sextillion molecules are free from pollutants.