Integrated technology for comfort
About integrated technology is written a lot. A good example is the book “Architectuur als klimaatmachine” Handboek voor duurzaam comfort zonder stekker (Architecture as a climate machine, A guide to sustainable comfort without using electricity), by Vera Yanovshtchinsky, Kitty Huijbers and Andy van den Dobbelsteen. Here integrated technology is used to achieve a high level of comfort.
The feeling of comfort depends on a person’s perception and is very subjective. What one person finds pleasant may be unpleasant for someone else. Comfort depends on the climate. A person living in a warm climate wants to cool down and vice versa. It is also influenced by culture and the way of life. In the Netherlands, we build spaces that are comfortable for the “average” person and that can be adapted for the individual. The inability to open windows is immediately felt as being uncomfortable, even though it is part of a solution that satisfies all of the requirements.
Six subjects to integrate
The technology used to create a comfortable house or building can be divided into different subjects, in addition to urban comfort and climate:
- Visual comfort, daylight
- Safety, fire compartmentalisation in the functional design
- Thermal comfort, insulation
- Air quality, ventilation
- Acoustic comfort
- User adaptation
A lot of daylight is good for our daily biorhythm. The blue daylight in the morning activates us and the red daylight at dusk makes us sleepy. Moreover, we want to use as much passive light as possible. You can use artificial light where necessary, but try to avoid it as much as possible throughout the day. However, unlimited amounts of daylight also have a downside because of the large contrast it creates between light and shadow. In addition, it is also important to take the view into account. Being able to look outside is a must for people who have to work for eight hours a day in a room.
It is important to cluster the different functions with respect to thermal comfort: for example, an office is separated from a gym. However, separated functions within the organisation must be accommodated in their own fire compartment. Consider the office and the workshop. By carefully addressing fire compartmentalisation, functional separation and climate zones at an early stage, clustered thermal comfort is easier to realise in the later stages. Trying to use installations to do this at a later stage for a low-energy building is nearly impossible.
This is defined as “a state that expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment”. Thermal comfort is determined by seven parameters: Individual: Metabolism Clothing Body temperature Surroundings: Air temperature Surface temperature Relative humidity Air movement
A thermally uncomfortable building has consequences for the morale and performance of the people in it. Moreover, heating and cooling affects energy consumption. The PHPP (Passive House Project-calculation Package) pays much attention to aligning these factors. Good insulation limits external climate influences. However, a window that lets in direct sunlight could be experienced as pleasant in winter while the same window should not let in sunlight in summer, to prevent overheating.
The air quality is determined by two factors, namely the quality of the supplied air and the influence of the people, materials and equipment. In general, indoor air quality is worse than outdoor air quality. Ventilation with outside air is experienced as being fresh and comfortable. In a room, people produce CO2, water vapour and odour. In addition, the materials and equipment also emit harmful substances and annoying odours. It is important to extract these substances by using good ventilation. Ventilation of 25 m3/h per person is sufficient.
Sound surrounds us; the amount of sound and the way in which it reaches us determines the acoustic comfort. There is a different between noise and sound: Noise is disturbing and unwanted, such as traffic noise. However, music, for example, can have a neutral or positive effect.
Optimized to balance
All subjects should be as optimized as possible, even if some subjects can conflict with others at sub-levels. It is important to find a balance. Optimisation is often equated to “as little energy as possible”. This is derived from the Trias Energetica, a strategy developed in 1979 under the leadership of Kees Duijvestein. The three steps of the Trias Energetica provide basic rules for the sustainable design of buildings. These three steps are: Limit the energy consumption by avoiding waste; therefore make use of insulation, triple glass and air tightness Make maximum use of energy from sustainable sources, such as wind, water and solar energy; Make the most efficient use of fossil fuels to meet the residual energy demand.
You cannot get your head around this complex subject without using integrated thinking and designing. Collaboration of building parties is important from day 1. Not only the architectural staff/contractors and installers, but also the client, the user and if required the financier must participate as much as possible in the project. Integrated DOING with a morphological design-chard is the best solution for housing, utility construction, up to a value of 10 million euros (90% of buildings, above this value the projects become too complex), and renovation. The morphological map addresses the subjects required to achieve the highest possible level of comfort. After all, a pleasant building that features high user adaptability is also a sustainable building.