Smart buildings are a key piece for the construction of smart cities. In fact, they have become the paradigm for the efficient use of natural resources, especially energy. But how is indoor air quality achieved in smart buildings? Reaching the objective of making more efficient use of this input is one of the sustainability goals indicated in red by the European Union to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This need, in addition to others such as the obligation to ensure the supply or reduce the amount of energy imported from third countries, led to the approval of Directive 2010/31 / EU on Buildings, subsequently revised by Directive (EU) 2018 / 844. Both directives, as specified by the E3CN Working Group (2018), mark the way for new buildings to be Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (EECN) from 2020 and all EU buildings to be Buildings by 2050 with Low Carbon Emission (EBEC).
Energy efficiency and indoor air quality in smart buildings
How to ensure high indoor air quality in buildings that have lack natural ventilation and rely on energy-intensive HVAC systems? One of the measures recommended by the experts gathered in the workshops organized by the Air Infiltration and Ventilation Center (AIVC) is the real-time monitoring of indoor air quality with devices such as Nanoenvi IAQ, a solution developed by ENVIRA IoT:
The 4 main elements that define the interior comfort of a room are:
- Indoor air quality (IAQ)
These are basic parameters whose imbalance affects the productivity and well-being of the building’s occupants. And, although from a regulatory perspective, its supervision is not necessary, the effect on people is such that improving indoor air quality could increase productivity by 19%.
In many buildings, these variables are regulated by ventilation, heating, and air conditioning systems, also known as HVAC systems, that account for approximately 33% of the world’s energy expenditure.
IoT technology could help reduce this energy consumption. Thus, for example, knowing in real-time how many people are in an area through presence sensors, thermal sensors or CO2 concentration can help the dynamic adjustment of an HVAC system. In this way, good indoor air quality and optimal comfort sensation could be achieved without excessive energy consumption. However, current occupancy sensors still require further development to meet this need precisely.
Recommendations to achieve optimal indoor air quality in smart buildings
The absence of standards, consistent metrics, and consensus in relation to what healthy indoor air quality is, beyond the recommendations of organizations such as the WHO (2010), or the complexity of pollution, make it difficult to monitor the variables related to indoor pollution.
However, experts have identified several priorities and recommendations that need to be addressed to ensure that the indoor atmosphere of these efficient buildings does not create any health risks:
- Analyze the impact of user behavior on the control of indoor air quality.
- Develop, apply, and harmonize new and advanced methods of indoor air quality monitoring, considering its effects on health and comfort in smart buildings.
- Increase the levels of responsibility to be assumed by contractors, designers, producers, builders, and installers.
- Ensuring robust and performance-based building system design, operation, and maintenance, while maintaining good indoor air quality.
- Quantify the results of indoor air quality controls in terms of health and comfort in terms of public health and economic criteria.
Nanoenvi IAQ, a monitoring solution for smart buildings
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world forever. Now people spend more time indoors, which is why indoor air quality has become a concern among the population. Nanoenvi® IAQ is an ideal device for smart buildings that continuously monitors indoor air quality so that managers or owners of public spaces can make decisions to improve people’s health and well-being. This equipment monitors the parameters of:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2).
- Carbon monoxide (CO).
- PM10 and PM2.5 particles.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Atmospheric pressure.
What environmental indices for health and well-being does Nanoenvi IAQ monitoring?
Some of the most relevant environmental indices for health and wellbeing, implemented by Nanoenvi IAQ platform are:
- Thermal Comfort Index (TCI). TCI is a mixed index based on formulas or nomograms on bioclimatic disaggregated indices.
- Indoor Air Quality Index (IAQI). IAQI is a synthetic index made by crossing TCI and AQI indices. Indoor air quality (IAQ) is the air quality within and around buildings and structures. IAQ is known to affect the health, comfort, and well-being of building occupants. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to sick building syndrome, reduced productivity, and impaired learning in schools.
- Environment Indoor Air Quality Rate (EIAQ). It is an index that measures the level of health and wellbeing in interior spaces. It is calculated based on the values obtained for IAQI and TCI.
With Nanoenvi IAQ, users can know what the Indoor Ambient Air Quality Index (ICAIA) at a glance thanks to a color code. The possible values of the index being:
- optimal quality (blue LEDs).
- good quality (green LEDs).
- moderate quality (yellow LEDs).
- poor quality (red LEDs).