Natural ventilation with automated windows
Automated windows can increase thermal comfort levels and provide significant reductions in energy use. Vento Australasia senior engineer James Idle explains.
If we are going to reduce resource wastage in buildings then natural ventilation or ‘hybrid’ solutions must become an imperative in building design. This is one of the best ways to reduce energy use and carbon creation in buildings. Using windows as a stand-alone ventilation strategy or combining them with air conditioning (a hybrid system) to ensure maximised efficiency can provide significant energy savings, carbon reductions and comfort improvements in both new and retrofit building projects.
In Australia, we seem to have forgotten about the value of using windows to cool and ventilate buildings. In order to do this, we need a smart natural ventilation control system: silent window actuation so to not disturb the user, suitable window design, the correct window sizing and the optimum location on the façade. If we consider the building facade as a method of providing controlled comfort cooling and fresh air then the value of a window system increases substantially as it is supplying both daylight and smart ventilation. As this awareness increases, more designers will hopefully specify windows that are intended to provide cooling and refreshing air flow as well as daylight.
With windows as they stand today, people can manually open or close them but in reality this happens too late or too early or never happens at all. How many of us remember to leave our windows open at night time in the office or in the school to provide energy free night purging and how many of us know when the conditions are right to allow that? Will it be hot or cold enough tonight or are there security issues that concern me? No layman or typical building user will know any of this.
How many of us will not open windows in winter as we fear we will lose heat out of the windows? The value of a fresh and clean internal environment created by introducing fresh air into a building via windows should never be underestimated. There are large amounts of research from around the world on the value of a maximised fresh internal environment and the high levels of acceptance of the thermal comfort levels in naturally ventilated and hybrid buildings.
In order to make all this happen successfully via windows they must be suitably controlled. This means their operation must be precise while allowing user override and ease of user interaction as required in a fully automated system.
In addition, having the ability to remotely access, control and monitor the system using a natural ventilation control system via a user-friendly touch screen is also of great value.
The use of automated windows using smart, specific, natural ventilation control systems can significantly improve the value of windows on a building by measurably reducing energy use and noticeably increasing internal environment quality including inhabitant comfort.
Surely this is the way of the future!