Comfort Ventilation System in Certified Buildings

In the last several years, the construction industry – as the main CO2 emitter – has introduced new tools that are to accelerate changes in the green building sector. The building quality certification is becoming a binding standard for promoting sustainable construction and friendly environment. The construction market must develop in order to meet all investor, tenant and user expectations.

Comfort ventilation system – green buildings and environmental certification

BREEAM, LEED and increasingly common WELL are undoubtedly the most popular certificates in Poland. The BREEAM and LEED standards place particular emphasis on the environmental issues, while the WELL standard concentrates on the user comfort and health.

It is the best to start the certification process at the concept stage. It is when critical decisions are made. They affect the building characteristics and, consequently, the certification process results. Best results are achieved when designers closely cooperate with BREEAM, LEED and WELL system specialists. Consultants acquaint the designers with the survey methodology and help them prepare a report that forms the basis for granting a certificate.

In a certificated building, the energy consumption and wastage are reduced, device service and operating costs are lowered, and high quality air is provided to users. This, in turn, translates into reduced environmental impact.

Despite the fact that the green building sector was created out of respect for nature, these days we can see that sustainable buildings are focused on human needs. It has been proven that people occupying healthy rooms work more efficiently and achieve better results.

Monika Garbacz

Technical and commercial advisor – SMAY

Green Building Ventilation Systems

Ventilation systems should ensure high ambient air quality, thermal comfort and energy efficiency. At the same time, they should prevent potential issues with overheating, noise and polluted indoor air. Green buildings contain all kinds of environment-friendly devices, including energy-saving equipment, contributing to the creation of safe and healthy building environment. And the ventilation systems definitely belong to this category.
A proper ventilation system should be present in every civil structure. In the certification process particular emphasis is placed on the ambient air quality. Indoor air quality monitoring strategies in most buildings are connected with checking CO2 level, humidity, local exhaust ventilation, supply air filtering and protection against pollution, including bioaerosols.

There are many way of creating an appropriate ventilation system in a green building. They involve natural ventilation, ventilation with heat recovery, energy-saving extraction fans, or the combination of all of the above. Green building strategies allow for many different solutions that may improve air circulation. But the problem is the way the building administrators will operate provided ventilation solutions, both passive and mechanical ones, or in other words – intentional system operation.

Irrespectively of ventilation type (and also building type, because this applies both to green and traditional buildings), an ideal system should be carefully planned and designed, taking exhaust air flow rate into account. Moreover the air flow has to be balanced, so that all building occupants feel comfortable and pollution is removed. In green buildings, we want to reduce the environmental impact of the construction, and to minimize electricity consumption. One of methods of achieving these goals is to use natural or mechanical ventilation, or some combination of both. The choice depends on the building location, climate and many other factors.

Aspects of ventilation essential to the certification process

Natural and mechanical ventilation

Natural ventilation allows the users of the building to control the volume of air supplied to rooms, which is tantamount to increasing their comfort. During summer, one of the most common passive cooling solutions is to leave windows open at night; it is connected with savings of energy used for room cooling. In BREEAM certification system, an object receives additional points for a natural ventilation system. Natural ventilation is a method of air exchange without any additional electricity loss. Those savings, and the lack of need to maintain the system, are some essential aspects of the certification process. Nevertheless, the functioning of natural ventilation depends on current weather conditions. The outside air is not purified.

In case of mechanical ventilation, possible heat recovery ensures reaching high energy efficiency, and with a proper design it also provides room air conditioning. However, mechanical ventilation systems must be serviced on a regular basis. Users are not always aware of the required maintenance activities. Any negligence may lead to undesirable effects, which will have an impact on residents’ health.

With a view of sustainable construction, SMAY offers solutions for both natural and mechanical ventilation systems. By using a combination of systems it is possible to introduce right air exchange in every building.

Thermal comfort

Thermal comfort is a state when people feel ideal microclimatic conditions. Well-being is a result of thermal balance between the human body and the environment. We can say it is the state when we are neither cold nor hot. The thermal comfort is, so to speak, a combination of physical and psychological factors. Construction industry experts managed to establish general rules for designing buildings that are considered comfortable to most users. Temperature and air flow speed in a zone occupied by people have a significant impact on their feeling of thermal comfort.

In reality, appropriately designed, made and adjusted ventilation system is completely unnoticeable to the user, and right air distribution in rooms has significant impact on the users’ comfort in a building. Thus, it is crucial to select right diffusers which are the most important component influencing air distribution. A wide selection of products offered by SMAY enables designers to select right solutions and create ventilation systems for any type of room.

Indoor ambient air quality and comfort ventilation systems

According to WHO, the ambient air quality inside closed rooms has greater impact on users’ health than outside air. The most distinctive effect of improper indoor ambient air quality and infrequent air exchanges (or a complete lack of exchange) is the sick building syndrome. This term refers to a large number of health problems, such as headaches, dizziness, fainting or breathing difficulties. Human health depends on the exposure time to various kinds of pollution, the type of factor, and the number of microorganisms present in the air. During certification process adopted design solutions are verified, along with filter classes, distances between intake vents and windows and the sources of pollution, as well as air flow rates.

SMAY offers smart solutions for commercial and private use. They are intended for controlling and improving the ambient air quality in rooms. The ELIXAIR filtration solution decreases the level of pollution and ensures the required ambient air quality in offices, private rooms, operating rooms and laboratories. The devices neutralise bacteria and viruses, and provides us with clean and healthy air.

Acoustic comfort

As part of the certification system it is worth analysing acoustic influence of a building under design on both external and internal environments. Before building commissioning it is necessary to carry out acoustic re-measurements. The measurements show whether the actual state of the building is in conformity with the requirements, and whether the noise produced by mechanical ventilation devices does not exceed acceptable values, and therefore does not negatively impact users. In order to reduce the noise level generated by mechanical devices, acoustic silencers should be used. The noise may also be generated by air flowing through the ending pieces of the system. In order to avoid this problem, it is necessary to select pieces with appropriate acoustic characteristics (such a service is offered by SMAY).

Building energy efficiency analysis

According to the BREEAM and LEED requirements, building energy efficiency is particularly important and highly valued. It is possible to define energy expenditures connected with operation, among other things with room ventilation. Knowing the real energy demand in the building, it is possible to estimate its operating expenses. Additionally, if the analysis is carried out at the design stage, it is possible e.g. to check multiple versions of a system and select energy optimised solutions. It translates into savings of electrical energy and heat energy costs, and therefore such knowledge is particularly attractive to investors.

Nowadays the market trends and requirements for low energy consumption in buildings involve applying methods with parameters that can dynamically change. The analysis of different signals, such as current room temperature, CO2 concentration, user working hours, information from motion detectors / window sensors, etc., makes it possible to adapt ventilation efficiency to current needs. The iFlow system is an example of using these parameters for ventilation control. It provides comfort to the building users and, at the same time, ensures the greatest operational savings, as confirmed by the EcoCard.

User-friendly ventilation

Ventilation systems in certified facilities should be easy to use – both for building administrators and users. Building management systems, information from sensors, service messages, easier maintenance (thanks to adequately selected components) and the easiness of cleaning ventilation system components are all decisive factors in this regard. The quality of mechanical ventilation and low involvement of users in the system operation, which is influenced by right selection and full range of services offered by suppliers and contractors, are very important.

But what does the word “friendly” mean in this context? It means innovative, easy to install, efficient, quiet, maintenance-free (and if they require handling, it should be as simple and convenient as possible) and of high quality. We can proudly say that these words perfectly describe the solutions offered by SMAY.

For example, the aforementioned iFlow system is very easy to use both for administrators and users as it allows them to change individual room parameters. In line with the trends, SMAY mobile applications for smartphones and tablets make it possible to operate the system from every place in a building. From the application it is possible to limit room ventilation after leaving the office, increase temperature before coming to work and ensure appropriate CO2 concentration in the room, providing comfortable working conditions. iFlow uses the most important functions of the building management system to optimize operation of the ventilation system, and presents them in a versatile way on a built-in web server. Thanks to this iFlow can provide full control and monitoring of the ventilation system in every building at a minimum cost.

Moreover, SMAY’s offer includes a wide range of devices for both natural (highly scored during certification) and mechanical ventilation, the design of which makes operation easier for users.

When designing a ventilation system in a certified building, it should be noted that every single detail impacts both human comfort and costs of operation, and thus it influences the certification process final result.

Are you interested in our solutions?

We look forward to talking to you about ventilation.