All buildings, whether residential or commercial,require adequate ventilation in order to protect the health of occupants in regular circumstances as well as in emergency situations such as fires or other contaminations of the air.
There are several types of ventilation systems, with the two main ones currently in use being natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation. Each of these is distinctly different in its way of working as well as the advantages and disadvantages it brings to the structure it is integrated into or installed in.
The presence of either of these systems is critical for a number of reasons, including the removal of stale air and toxic gases, the replenishing of fresh and clean air in an environment, the removal of moisture, and the elimination of odours, bacteria and excess heat.
Natural ventilation basically refers to any system that does not require the use of mechanical devices to displace air in the structure, instead using organic airflow and openings to draw stale air and pollutants through and out of the building.
In this lies the first of five major benefits that this type of system offers – potentially reduced installation costs compared to its mechanical counterpart. This only applies in certain circumstances however – if an effective system is designed as part of the structure before construction, then the costs are absorbed into the build.
It should be noted that mechanical systems can still offer better value for money where having the maximum surface area available is important for getting the largest commercial return, for example in car parks, some retail environments and other similar venues.
The second advantage to natural ventilation is also budget-related; mechanical installations can be very costly to operate, not only due to the need for fans, but also because of air conditioning units which can increase energy consumption costs by up to 30% per building according to reports.
On the other hand, more organic ways of optimising air circulation in structures can mean that this cost is practically eliminated, making it a financially-sound long term solution for companies that are looking to economise in all the areas that they can.
It is should also be noted that this type of ventilation is also a great deal greener than mechanical ventilation systems, as it uses significantly less energy to operate efficiently. For this reason, the third advantage of natural ventilation is the fact that it is the far more environmentally-friendly solution out of the two main choices, and is therefore also possibly a real solution for the future.
A fourth benefit that comes with using a more organic and already-integrated ventilation solution in a building is that fact that its rival – the mechanically driven system – requires regular maintenance to make sure that it is doing its job properly and that it meets the relevant healthy and safety requirements.
This is not so true for natural ventilation systems, which do not have as many essential parts that need regular upkeep and replacement on a frequent basis. Although all systems should be regularly inspected to ensure that they are working optimally, costly and lengthy maintenance work is virtually eliminated with this option.
The fifth and final advantage of natural ventilation is that it has been shown to be a popular choice of system with building occupants compared to the mechanical variety. The reason for this is thought to be due to the level of thermal comfort that each choice provides, with many finding that mechanically operated solutions often make a room too cold or too warm.
Conversely, the other option is often able to effectively maintain an ideal temperature, despite the fact that there are no controls apart from simply opening or closing a window.
All types of ventilation systems have their good points and bad points, and the natural solution is no exception. That said, it is an option that brings considerable cost savings, not to mention improvements in occupant comfort and less of a negative impact on the environment, making it a potentially ideal solution for a greener future and a thriving global economy.