How Building Ventilation Will Factor Into the Future

Evelyn
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Ventilation is one of the most important factors in buildings when it comes to clean air and health. As the COVID-19 pandemic and global pollution continue to affect public health, it's more important than ever to focus on ways to bring proper air flows and circulation into buildings of all kinds. 


Building ventilation may not be the answer to our immediate crisis, but it's certainly a trend to watch in the years to come. How do architects and engineers embrace better indoor air quality in new construction? The first step is identifying the issues.


Focusing on Causes

Ventilation should be at the forefront of building designs moving forward into the future. These systems offer unique ways to ensure that people are getting the cleanest air possible. Such changes are especially important now, during the global pandemic.


The addition of global pollution and fluctuating temperatures from the climate crisis add conflict to the pandemic. Harvard University published a study at the beginning of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders that explained the connection between the virus and pollution. It stated that poor air quality leads to higher mortality rates from COVID-19.


Ventilation systems must account for these issues for the benefit of public health across the world. While these techniques will not solve our immediate crisis, they can help improve air quality in years to come. Proper ventilation is a necessary strategy for improving our indoor health at home and at work.


Passive Ventilation is the Future

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How Building Ventilation Will Factor Into the Future

Now that individuals will be going inside for the winter, the virus may have a higher transmission rate depending on government orders and protocols. The science is clear that avoiding close human contact is the primary and most important method for reducing viral infection, and clever design can do little to combat person-to-person public health practices. 


However, ventilation strategies can help builders and designers create healthier interiors in years to come —for example, when our most worrying health concern is the common cold. Of course, completely restructuring buildings before COVID-19 spikes this winter isn't possible, but the idea shows how designers and architects must progress moving forward.


Passive ventilation works with the seasons and geographic location to create the most optimal building. Land surveying can model the project site and provide data on optimal location and orientation of windows and other essential structures. 


Then, using nature, this form of ventilation has a central unit at the highest point in a building, since hot air rises. It pumps in the air from outside, filters it and disperses it throughout the building. With the right natural lighting, the ventilation system can conserve energy when the sun can do the rest. The unit will also pump out the exhaust to keep the air clean. 


This method is clean, and it saves money and energy during construction and during daily use. On top of that, it's sustainable and green. It's the key to creating a better indoor environment after COVID-19 — as well as on the road to cleaner global energy usage.


Cleaner Air Aids Ventilation Techniques

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How Building Ventilation Will Factor Into the Future

Passive construction is likely to be the biggest change for ventilation going forward. However, other factors play a role too. A combination of new technology, renewable resources and passive ventilation is the key to better building air quality.  New technology that aids in constructing innovative ventilation for buildings will pair well with air system changes.


For instance, renewable energy is a growing resource, currently accounting for 17% of electricity generation in the U.S. The reduction in harmful exhaust only contributes to a healthier environment. As buildings of all kinds start to make the transition from fossil fuels to clean sources like solar or wind, the ventilation system can start pumping in cleaner air.


Other ventilation factors for the future involve using cleaner construction tools and retrofitting older buildings by eliminating harmful materials. Asbestos, pollutants, lead, pesticides, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) must all be eliminated to create a healthier air system.


Gradual Change in Building Ventilation

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How Building Ventilation Will Factor Into the Future

The needs of society bring about change. Whether it's the need to switch to renewable energy for cleaner air or the need to improve ventilation systems to limit viral transmission, public health must always benefit.

Now that the climate crisis and the pandemic are happening in conjunction, it's time to invest in cleaner solutions for the present and for the future.



Evelyn Long is the editor of Renovated, a construction and home improvement magazine. Her work focuses on better building techniques for more sustainable communities.

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