The thermal environment within buildings affects the well-being, emotions, productivity, and sometimes the health of the building’s users, as well as the building’s performance and energy usage. In Denmark, around 90% of primary schools have problems with indoor climate conditions, which includes low air quality and thermal comfort. With students spending up to 8 hours of their weekdays in classrooms and considering the negative effect on academic performance and well-being, the thermal environment deserves more attention.
What is thermal comfort?
Thermal comfort has been rated as one of the most important conditions for improving satisfaction and comfort with a buildings’ users. It describes the users’ perceived satisfaction or feeling of the buildings thermal environment, which is a result of the external climate together with the building’s heat balance and technical systems, among these not least the ventilation system.
The thermal environment is affected by the heat from human bodies, the external climate, as well as a number of internal and external sources. This could be electrical equipment, poorly insulated walls, window surfaces, air temperatures, air movements in the room, humidity and the physical activity level in the room. All of these conditions will influence how people perceive a building’s thermal comfort. Another important factor is the exchange of indoor air with fresh outdoor air, which can often lower too high indoor temperatures and also remove excess moisture from the indoor air. Everybody has an intuitive feeling of what opening windows to let in some fresh air can do – a mechanical ventilation system will perform the same job, just without excessive heat loss and cold draughts.
Improving a building’s thermal conditions should be a constant focus, considering that a bad indoor climate can affect the building’s users’ emotions, productivity, and sometimes even their health. The health of the building can also be affected by poor thermal conditions.
Sustaining good thermal comfort with decentralized ventilation
Good thermal comfort is generally characterized by proper humidity, a comfortable room temperature, and a lack of certain things: Cold draughts from air movement, excessively cold or warm surfaces, and thermal stratification with cold air at the feet and warm air at the head. If these are not sufficiently fulfilled, it becomes important to influence the buildings thermal environment.
All of the above-mentioned factors can be greatly affected by ventilation and can be adjusted by incorporating an effective ventilation solution into the building envelope. Decentralized ventilation from Airmaster is demand-controlled and gives you great air quality in each and every room – with the lowest energy consumption.
The ventilation is installed directly into the room that needs to be ventilated, where each room can be controlled individually. This allows you to keep the thermal environment at an appropriate and comfortable level by using fresh air from the outdoors.
In addition to the individual basic settings, you can also get the option to control the ventilation automatically by using various sensors. This could be a motion sensor (PIR sensor), a humidity sensor, a TVOC sensor that measure the presence of volatile organic compounds in the air, and/or a CO2 sensor.
As for temperature, an Airmaster decentralized ventilation unit can help regulate the room temperature to a certain level. The fully automatic control will utilize the outdoor temperature for cooling when it is lower than the room temperature, both by bypassing the heat exchanger and through night cooling. For those warm summer days, adding a cooling module to the ventilation unit can further help keep the temperature down at a comfortable level.
By implementing the right ventilation solution for your building project, the thermal comfort and energy performance can be improved. This can lead to higher user satisfaction and comfort, less health-related problems, and higher performance from the building’s users. In addition to this, you create better conditions for the building itself, increasing its performance, health, and longevity.
Usually, an average rating of the thermal comfort can be predicted based on the above-mentioned factors. However, sometimes it can be harder to achieve a thermal environment that is able to satisfy all the users of the building, due to personal preferences. In these cases, a solution can be to combine a focus on those conditions that are perceived as acceptable to the majority of the building’s users, with intelligent ventilation. Airlinq® Online, a cloud-based web portal tailored to Airmaster’s decentralized ventilation units, provides the opportunity to manage and monitor each ventilation unit according to the needs of each room. Additionally, by using sensors, Airlinq® Online is able to assist in the future control and management strategies for the entire ventilation system.