Optimising Hybrid Ventilation Systems

Breathing Buildings new Undergraduate Project

Breathing Buildings is pleased to announce that the next Cambridge University undergraduate research project we are supervising is on hybrid ventilation. Hybrid ventilation is the future according to Shaun Fitzgerald, CEO of Breathing Buildings. However, the optimum hybrid system depends on various factors including the climate, building occupancy profile, heat gains within the building and of course the architectural form. There is currently no easy-to-use set of guidelines to direct designers to the right type of hybrid system. Within the UK the mixing ventilation system offered by Breathing Buildings is highly likely to be the right answer with no additional systems other than some heating. However, even then, modifications are sometimes necessary. Breathing Buildings has recently worked on a large multi-storey building where the floor to ceiling height is 4m and where the distance from a perimeter to a central atrium is 30m; in this case, the hybrid system involves natural ventilation and a full mechanical ventilation system with air-conditioning. Breathing Buildings has also completed a smaller building in Shropshire in the last year, the Costa eco-pod, where the design criteria called for an A/C system for the very hottest days.

costa wrekinThe design challenge becomes more significant when the climate is more continental than the UK; with colder, dryer winters and hotter, humid summer conditions, the value of full air conditioning and enthalpy recovery can be significant, in which case the type of hybrid system which is optimal for a building is very different. Starting in October 2016 a student will be examining the types of hybrid system in terms of thermal comfort, energy use, air quality and noise – all of these factors are important and can vary throughout the year for a given location and building, and hence a framework is needed for the design community to help structure the appropriate analysis which will help identify the best solution for each project.