Directives and standards to reduce energy in commercial buildings have set challenges for building services engineers to overcome. Complex design systems and modelling tools are now used to create new super-efficient installations with impressive results but, are they comfortable? Michael Curran, CIBSE Ireland and Head of Building Services, Energy and Utilities at the University of Galway investigates.
Faber and Kells’ Heating and Air Conditioning of Buildings, eleventh edition, first published in 1936,
emphasises the need for satisfactory environmental conditions within a building, whether for human comfort, material storage or support processes. The main factors that influence comfort for people relate broadly to the senses … touch, vision, smell and hearing. Thus the design of the building services systems must provide a good thermal, aural and visual environment – fresh air and warmth or cooling; no unwanted noise or odours; and good lighting.
In surveys of user satisfaction in buildings comfort issues, particularly temperature and air freshness, are among those rated as the most important aspects. The same studies show that dissatisfaction with the internal environment, particularly the thermal environment, is widespread with complaints of overheating in winter and coldness in air conditioned buildings in summer commonplace. Therefore, the challenge for building services engineers and the design team is to ensure comfort conditions are met on all fronts. Design for non-domestic buildings can range from refurbishment of a 100-year old church to a new office block or hospital operating theatre. All have different conditions of operation.
It is important that designers and installers achieve design comfort levels set out by clients. Clients generally do not spend much attention on the heating systems in the project briefing document as it is assumed that designers will provide the staff with places to work efficiently. Badly-designed heating and ventilation systems can cause labour issues around sickness, absenteeism and lack of productivity.
The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) provides numerous technical guidance and other benchmark documents outlining comfort conditions in buildings for heating, cooling and ventilation. Indeed, CIBSE guidance is referenced in Ireland’s Building Regulations.
See PDF of full article at Reduse carbon but don’t forget comfort