Have you ever wondered why do we ventilate our houses?
Throughout history, humans always looked for better living conditions and healthier air. For the past several decades, indoor air quality and thermal comfort were the main focus of researchers, architects and engineers all over the world. And the year 2020 is definitely the year for indoor environmental quality, energy-efficient renovated buildings providing healthy environments and future resielient buildings.
From a historical perspective to today´s situation
Humans and animals have evolved solutions to either adapt to their existing environments or made changes to improve them. So the main focus was on keepin heat in buildings, however with good indoor air quality. Also in the past the combustion was a problem when used to produce heat, light or for cooking. People and their activities also produce various pollutants that need to be managed and removed. And also, the building materials were and always are producing the emissions that might be harmful.
Today´s sources are even more harmful, as buildings are built super airtight and the ventilation must be secured to get rid of pollutants from combustion by-products, human bio-effluents, microbiological contamination, radon, particles and VOCs. So we need to ventilate our buildings to provide a healthy indoor environment.
The article explaning everything is “Why We Ventilate Our Houses – An Historical Look” by Nance E. Matson and Max H. Sherman, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Abstract: The knowledge of how to ventilate buildings, and how much ventilation is necessary for human health and comfort, has evolved over centuries of trial and error. Humans and animals have developed successful solutions to the problems of regulating temperature and removing air pollutants through the use of ventilation. These solutions include ingenious construction methods, such as engineered passive ventilation (termite mounds and passive stacks), mechanical means (wing-powered, fans), and an evolving effort to identify problems and develop solutions. Ventilation can do more than help prevent building occupants from getting sick; it can provide an improved indoor environment. Codes and standards provide minimum legal requirements for ventilation, but the need for ventilation goes beyond code minima. In this paper we will look at indoor air pollutant sources over time, the evolution of ventilation strategies, current residential ventilation codes and standards (e.g., recently approved ASHRAE Standard 62.2), and briefly discuss ways in which we can go beyond the standards to optimize residential ventilation, reduce indoor air quality problems, and provide corresponding social and economic benefit.
Would you like to read more about ventilation and history?