Natural Ventilation – Solutions for Existing Buildings

If you have an existing building using manual windows then you may be familiar with some of the common issues with this approach to ventilation. These often manifest themselves as complaints;

  • Poor air quality / stuffy rooms
  • Rooms that are too hot in summer
  • High energy usage while windows are open
  • Complaints about general comfort in the space

And, with an increasing appreciation of the need for good ventilation to support occupant health and wellbeing, and growing obligations around the cost of excess energy consumption – where do we start? By understanding the problem.

So why don’t manual windows always work?

The challenge is normally that as people arrive in densely occupied spaces, they start to create a demand for ventilation – they are breathing out high levels of CO2, and contributing to the heat load in the space. Even before they arrived, the space may not be in its ideal state – because the windows have had to have been shut for security reasons. And so with the addition of heat loads from computers, lighting and solar gains (in that well insulated space), the conditions in the space begin to worsen.

Because people are often busy in those spaces conducting work, or learning, and because we don’t have accurate built in temperature gauges or CO2 monitors (or indeed overall responsibility for the space), we’ll often leave those windows closed until conditions in the room become really quite bad and then highly perceptible (way too warm, way too stuffy). At that point it can often be difficult to energy efficiently recover good room conditions all day. We would need to throw all the windows open to rapidly ventilate the space – which can result in dumping all the heat energy in winter, creating significant drafts and a cold space (often we’ll leave the windows open further and for longer than we need leaving the heating system to try and catch up). In Summer by the time we open the windows it may have already become too warm outside to be able to keep the space cool, so by opening the windows too late we’re limiting how much we can cool it or even adding to the heat during the warmest part of the day…and the problem perpetuates.

Because windows are rarely operated by just the right amount, at the right times, the space commonly deteriorates during the day and a good air quality – comfort – energy balance is never recovered. The room remains in a less than ideal state at the end of the day and we are forced to close the windows to make the building secure and seal in those poor conditions ready for it to begin again tomorrow.

A breath of fresh air: How automating your windows can dramatically change your spaces

By automating windows, we can begin to monitor your spaces and address the problems before they start to become a problem. By watching CO2 levels using a sensor, we can gently and incrementally open windows to let just enough background ventilation in to keep air quality great, while minimising drafts and keeping heat loss to a minimum. With an eye on temperature in the space, again we can begin to ventilate before we see overheating and balancing with the temperature outside to help us to maintain comfort levels. If we find outside temperatures in summer climbing higher than indoors, we can limit the amount of warm air coming in – while keeping the space fresh and more comfortable.

What’s more, at the end of the day we can send the windows to secure positions which may allow for a small amount of ventilation if still needed during the night (when cooler outdoor air allows us to recover ideal starting temperatures), to prepare the rooms for the best start the next day.
All of this without the use of mechanical cooling, using very little operating energy and saving on heating energy.

Window of opportunity for comfort, wellbeing and energy savings

Feedback from occupants in buildings with automated windows is consistently that they are more satisfied with the quality of the spaces compared with those using manual windows or air conditioning. All while saving energy and money!

If you want to explore how our experts and smart window automation solutions can help transform your spaces by fitting intelligent and quiet window motors – contact us now.

Curious? Contact us now to discuss how we can help improve your building ventilation, comfort, and energy performance.