about our event “Back to Basic” written by Tina Kammer
March 2017, Page 42 – 44
BAD ATMONSPHERE? FAR FROM IT!
A problematic issue: indoor climate
In architecture and interior design, the indoor climate issue plays an important role. Reason enough for the InteriorPark. team to invite experts from the fields of architecture and medicine to an exchange of ideas. A stocktake.
To save energy, building hulls are increasingly constructed denser, and air exchange is steadily decreasing. Due to a reduced exchange of air, the air accumulates more and more chemical emissions from building materials and internally occurring particular air pollutants, created for instance by cooking, heating, cleaning and last but not least by us human beings. Using building products and materials that emit pollutants, plus rooms that are too moist or too dry, makes inhabitants ill. Mechanical ventilation systems are supposed to provide fresh air and remedy the situation. But can they deliver what they promise?
Alas, but not always, says medical specialist Dr. Walter Hugentobler, warning against health risks due to too dry air too moist indoor air. In his opinion, buildings ”have become an important pathogenic factor”.
What is inside rooms is not “nothing” and it is not “simply air”. Quantitatively it is our most important “nourishment”. We inhale about 18 kg of it every day. The quality of this “food” jointly depends on architecture, building technology and medicine.
The relative humidity, in which human beings feel well and stay healthy, amounts to 40 to 60 percent. But for viruses and bacteria this average moisture is deadly. This moisture will in many cases neither be reached nor maintained in winter – in any case not when mechanical ventilation systems are at work. More often than not traditional short, complete changes of air to save energy by opening windows fully for a short period is the better solution.
In modern, energy-efficient, airtight and mechanically air-conditioned buildings in lightweight construction, dryness levels in rooms have reached an unprecedented extent. –human beings function as their own air humidifiers in dry room air, and this dry air withdraws a substantial amount of humidity for the body. “In winter, our indoor climate corresponds to a continental desert climate”, says Dr. Hugentobler.
Healthy, hygroscopic natural building materials are an alternative. When these are used in building construction and renovation, they enable less ventilation technology or even no ventilation technology to be used while the highest energy standards can be met.
BACK TO BASIC
‘H-House – Healthier life with eco-innovative components for housing constructions’ is an EU research project assigned to develop innovative, sustainable partition walls, based on clay, wood or cellulose material in order to create a healthy indoor environment and increase user comfort. The building elements are developed both for existing and for new buildings, which try to achieve reduced use of energy and resources in residential buildings.