home-ventilation

Role of Ventilation in Designing Your Home

Ventilation is the process where the inside and outside air is exchanged inside a space. When it comes to designing a home, the most important factor to consider is the proper air circulation which will provide an even distribution of air within a certain space.

What is ventilation?

home-ventilation
Ventilation of designed spaces

Air, one of the basic elements which is essential to human survival. That is why it is necessary to pay more attention to the ventilation when designing a home. because without proper ventilation, you would be facing a lifetime of health problems. So, lets’ see what ventilation means.

The general purpose of ventilation in buildings is to provide healthy air for breathing by both diluting the pollutants originating in the building and removing the pollutants from it. Ventilation helps in maintaining heat levels, humidity levels and even controls the dust in some cases.

Why do we ventilate?

These days, most of the homes are sealed up which makes them suitable grounds for the survival of low-quality air. There are daily activities which takes place within a house such as cooking, bathing, washing and cleaning. When these activities take place, the atmosphere of the home changes drastically. So, lets’ take cooking for an example. The gases from stoves and fireplaces tends to accumulate with in the house. Which are even toxic. Having high amount of humidity leads to mold growth and even structural damages of the house. So, when considering it all, the air can be polluted due to all sort of things like pollen, dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), outside pollutants, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide etc. At the end of the day, all these things disturb the balance of air. This might threaten your health and safety as well. This is why It is necessary to bring back the lost balance of air into your home.

How to ventilate a space?

Ventilation can be achieved either naturally or mechanically.

Types of natural ventilation

Natural ventilation includes driving of outdoor naturally existing air through buildings and spaces. Built in windows, doors, openings and chimneys are few structures which helps in ventilating a space naturally. These ventilation methods change with climate, human behaviors and design of the buildings. But since, they are natural the effects of those changes are immediately felt and hard to regulate easily.

There are few types of natural ventilation as given in the figure (1). The more complex the built-in form, the efficiency of the ventilation is high.

Mechanical ventilation

When it comes to mechanical ventilation, there are fans which are installed within rooms and spaces and air ducts which circulate air in and out of a room. When it comes to mechanical ventilation, it also varies with climate. But in this method, there are ways to have it under control. For an example if the climate is warm, the infiltration should be reduced to minimize the interstitial condensation. In order to execute this, a positive pressure mechanical ventilation is used often and for cold climates negative pressure ventilation is used.

When it comes to ventilation, be mindful of these facts;

When it comes to ventilating the home, there are three basic elements to consider. They are the rate of ventilation, airflow direction and the pattern of the airflow. Ventilation rate is the amount of air which is flowed into a space in a certain amount of time. The direction of the airflow decides the overall flow of air in a space and the pattern of airflow tends to move clean air in to the system while pollutants generated are moved out from the system. All the three facts should be kept in a fixed state. So that having a slow airflow, or a wrong air pattern won’t harm you at any cost.

Tips to improve ventilation in your home

Following these simple tips would improve the ventilation and help you to get the best out of ventilating your home.

Better to exhaust: Sometimes it is better to send the air out rather than taking in. which is why it is secure to have exhaust fans in some parts of the home such as the bathrooms and kitchens. These fans will draw the polluted air out of the rooms.

Natural air is free: Always try to keep the windows and doors open (If it is not a space surrounded by smoke and fumes) and let the fresh air in. Rather than depending on mechanically generated air, fresh air always has its perks. No electricity bills staking up, no maintain fees and who wouldn’t want to add the visual quality to a better air quality

Air needs to be cleaned: Use a dehumidifier to help reduce mold potential. Less moisture in a home is better for your health as well as the health of your home. The air filter should at least be changed four times a year or more if the house tends to have high rate of air issues.

Ground coverings: The garden of your home should have more greenery than paving and concrete structures. These hard landscape elements tend to generate more heat in the surrounding. But having more soft landscape elements such as grasses, shrubs and trees will reduce the heat which in turn will cool the air of the home surrounding. This air will be circulated into the home.

Water and air: Adding water as a feature in your home is one way to cool the circulating air naturally. The water elements such as ponds, fountains or water structures for beauty will aid in cooling air when passing by.

Height of the window: When installing windows to the home, it is better if the height is more than 3.5 feet which makes more area for the air inflow and also minimize the heat load of the ceiling.

Clerestories

Clerestories: These helps not only to let the light in, but to improve the air quality. Since hot air tends to move upwards, clerestories help in letting the warm air out naturally even when the windows are closed.

Transitional spaces: Having transitional spaces in and out of your home is a better way of increasing air quality. Incorporating balconies, internal courtyards, shrub lines and open spaces instead of just walls will help in cooling the air and improving the rate of air flow as well.

There are standards established by the government authorities on building homes with proper ventilation. These standards allow the minimum limits in having proper ventilation in homes. When you are designing your home, it is better to be more focused on having an appropriate ventilation system which will help you to live a healthy long life.

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P. Ramawickrama
Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Moratuwa

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