Air, it is among the most essential elements to life and yet we fail in recognizing how important it is to have clean air in indoor environments.
It has an impact on people’s health and performance at work, or on their everyday life activities.
The more contaminated the air in indoor environments is, the quicker people succumb to illnesses, allergies; stress levels rise, even for a subtle concentration of pollutants in a room. All this, of course, affects good health. And enclosed environments significantly contribute to exposure to air pollutants, as people spend almost 90% of their time indoor and indoor air is usually 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, mainly due to lack proper air exchange.
Air exchange – we have even seen during the pandemic how important it is – helps diluting or bringing down to zero the contaminants concentration in enclosed spaces.
Natural ventilation vs Mechanical ventilation
Ventilation should be always guaranteed in indoor environments as it helps addressing all the above-mentioned issues related to poor indoor air quality.
What are the options available to ensure proper ventilation in a building, though?
One is usually natural ventilation: introducing outdoor air in enclosed spaces by removing barriers – opening windows or doors – for instance. That allows fresh indoor air to replace exhaust air naturally. But while that might seem an easy and simple way to make air exchange in enclosed environments happen, it also has downsides.
Among them there are
- thermal dissipation
- absence of filtration of the air introduced indoor
- higher energy consumptions
- no active or direct control over air exchange
In fact, with natural ventilation, while air exchange, some extent, might be easily guaranteed, the thermal conditions of the environment being ventilated are inevitably going to change. That usually happens with the introduction of air at a different temperature than the indoor environment, which will not be able to retain warmth during fall and winter and freshness in spring and summer, then forcing climate control systems to work more to achieve the target indoor temperature and consume more energy.
Then, there is the aspect related to the lack of filtration. In fact, with natural ventilation, the air moving in and replacing exhaust air, might not be clean enough and might contain pollution, pollens and other contaminants that would not contribute to raising indoor air quality levels.
Mechanical ventilation instead, ensures perfect thermal control, no thermal dissipation, also thanks to energy recovery technology, which can transfer heat and moisture from the airflow being extracted to the airflow being introduced in the premises.
And finally, mechanical ventilation systems can ensure high levels of air filtration, making sure that only clean air is introduced in buildings.
Mechanical ventilation in existing buildings
It is a fact that mechanical ventilation is a great contribution to ensure high indoor quality levels in indoor environments.
While almost being a standard in Northern European countries, where buildings are usually designed to be thermally insulated and minimize energy consumptions, mechanical ventilation is not present in a still too large portion of the European building stock.
That was partially because most of the existing buildings (schools, public offices, light-commercial buildings or even residential buildings), built decades ago, not only do not have ventilation systems, but cannot accommodate machines’ installation for structural reasons.
Technology is constantly evolving, though, and the air-conditioning sector is now able to offer compact enough solutions to make installation in existing buildings possible and easy.
Daikin has recently launched one – the Daikin Modular T Series – that aims at giving customers the possibility to upgrade their building with a modern system, an all-in-one solution able to provide ventilation, cooling, heating and dehumidification, finally helping to raise indoor air quality levels in existing buildings and make them a healthy environment for occupant.
Read here about how Daikin ventilation solutions can contribute to Green Building certification
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