As Australia adapts to “a new normal”, the building industry is engaged in an important conversation to improve sustainability, promote better and safer design and prioritise occupants’ well-being above all else. Stronger and stronger scientific evidence and experts’ suggestions now point to smarter, automated ventilation as an integral part in such post-covid building standards.
A simulation on educational environment
In February 2021, The New York Times collaborated with leading engineers, specialists in building systems and experts from Harvard University to build a simulation using 800,000 points of data. Although there are slight differences in classroom design between New York and Australian cities, the simulation reveals important facts on how ventilation helps limit aerosol transmission in educational facilities in specific and all public spaces in general.
According to the study, the lack of sufficient ventilation creates an ideal environment for airborne virus to spread around and transmit. It is estimated that 3% of the air each person in the room breathes are exhaled by other people.
This image illustrates how the breath of an infected person disperses throughout the room when all windows are closed. The darker lines signal where the contaminants are most concentrated. Within a short period of time and without fresh air coming into the room, the contaminants quickly circulate and remain, posing high health risks for occupants.
The situation gets better when we leave a window open because fresh air coming into the room helps dilute the contaminants, hence the lower risk of exposure for other people sitting around. In the simulation, experts manage to achieve four air exchanges per hour.
Yet the best scenario comes when there is an integration between natural airflow and mechanical systems (in this case the addition of a fan and an air cleaner). Instead of dispersing throughout the room, the contaminants focus only where the fan is blowing and are diluted everywhere else.
The simulation once again proves that it is not just about natural ventilation. The smarter, pandemic-proof solution should be an automated, integrated operation of high free air windows and the building management system (BMS). That change in standard and perception now receives more and more support from leading experts in Australia.
Experts call for changes to the National Construction Code (NCC)
In a recent interview with ABC News, Professor Geoff Hanmer from the University of Adelaide expressed his concern as “the way that we deal with naturally ventilated buildings. That’s most aged care facilities or schools. When people shut the windows because it’s cold outside, there’s no ventilation. And the level of ventilation reaches hazardous levels quite quickly.”
While significant improvements were introduced to the NCC 2019 in terms of glazing, ventilation, filtration, air changes per hour etc., there are strong calls for updated standards and requirements to tackle the spread of COVID-19 as well as for the overall health and wellbeing of building occupants. Many recommendations centre around window automation and building management systems, applicable for both new builds and retrofitting existing buildings, following Australia’s hard-earned lessons with hotel quarantine and outdated ventilation systems.
Joining the conversation, Professor Catherine Bennett at Deakin University also agrees upon the evidence of COVID-19 as an aerosol transmission and encoding safety regulations are “something we should move to, particularly for aged care, or for our quarantine centres…”
The changing ventilation standards in a variety of settings, she hopes, could be “a legacy of the global pandemic” towards a safer living environment.
Introducing the SmartAir System and Free Motor Initiative
Safetyline Jalousie are well-known for challenging and overcoming the design, security and safety limitations of conventional louvre windows. And meeting these new calls for better ventilation performance is no exception.
Joining hands with Blue Squared Window Automation, Safetyline Jalousie introduce the SmartAir System – a pre-programmable, fully automated, tried and tested complete turnkey air quality solution that enables all spaces to monitor temperature, CO2 and humidity.
This will inform, cue and operate motorised high performance louvre windows that have 86% free air coupled with superior sealing capabilities that block wind, water, air and noise.
With the SmartAir System, Safetyline Jalousie hope to play our part in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of kids and adults alike across Australia, particularly those that are considered to be more vulnerable during and post-COVID. We also believe that every project and space is entitled to the benefits of motorising and automating the monitoring and control of air quality.
With that in mind, and in conjunction with the SmartAir Proposal, Safetyline Jalousie would like to offer the opportunity to add our SmartAir louvre motors to any windows quote for:
- Australian Education Projects
- Australian Aged Care Projects
- Australian Social Housing Projects
This includes all retrofitting existing projects along with both present and future builds. By offering motorised louvre windows at the same cost of manually operated windows we hope to alleviate any cost prohibiting factors that would influence the quality outcome of the project.
Should you need further consultation and technical advice on smarter, greener ventilation solutions like the SmartAir System, do not hesitate to contact Safetyline Jalousie team.
* All simulation image credits belong to The New York Times.
* Why Opening Windows Is A Key To Reopening Schools – The New York Times.
* Experts Call For Changes To Australian Ventilation Standards In Bid To Pandemic-Proof Buildings.