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Functional Ambiance: Designing for Clean Air

by Daniela last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:12 AM
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by Daniela last modified Oct 20, 2010 For more than you ever wanted to know about indoor air quality (IAQ) please check out my article Functional Ambiance: Designing for Clean Air on Metropolis magazine's continuing-education site, sponsored by Humanscale .   A few highlights... [Download the PDF ] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that air in homes is often five times more polluted than outdoors, and considering that most people today spend upwards of 80 percent of their days and nights inside, the interior atmosphere is a critical design criteria for functional environments. The average adult breathes in around eight germs per minute, for a total of 10,000 per day. The American Lung Association reports that 23 million Americans have asthma. This includes seven million children. Indoor air quality is the human factor that gets lost in design. Since air is invisible, it’s easy not to notice. Companies are aware of employee efficiency so they invest in ergonomic furniture and lighting, but IAQ gets forgotten by clients and designers alike. This is a mistake considering the relationship between air quality and health. Preventing and solving air quality problems are integrated issues that should include the participation of everyone along the design, construction, and occupancy process. In the first place, architectural choices set up initial air quality conditions that all other factors tie into. These need to be coordinated with the building’s mechanical engineers. Even the order of a building’s construction process can impact air quality if there are reactions between materials at different stages. And then interior design choices constitute a whole new layer of chemical interactions, followed by all the things building occupants bring in.  






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