Natural Hybrid Ventilation in Office Buildings

Ventilation in Modern Buildings

Natural hybrid ventilation in office buildings is a big part of the discussion about the movement to “go green”. This alternative to mechanical solutions, like heavy exhaust fans in industrial spaces and HVAC ventilation systems in office buildings, provides clean, fresh, energy efficient cooling. This not only helps improve working conditions but it also helps reduce energy consumption and waste.

Natural ventilation uses a weather-protected opening to more effectively and efficiently let hot air escape the building. Coupled with a supply of cool, clean intake air from the ground level makes the building more comfortable without electricity or mechanical components. Recently, in buildings where ventilating naturally is not enough by itself, a mix of natural and mechanical ventilation systems is being used. These Natural Hybrid Ventilation systems ventilate naturally when the weather permits (lower outside temperatures, high winds) and air conditioning and powered cooling the rest of the time.

Automated computer monitoring keeps the system running efficiently. It analyzes temperatures and detects changes to determine when the ventilators can be opened. At this time the powered systems are shut off. Sensors, strategically placed throughout the building, find the best settings for each space. This is done by analyzing the air-flow and heat levels throughout the building.

These developments have allowed for the growing use of natural systems in commercial spaces and office buildings. When engineers and architects want to design a green building, they know that this is the way to do it. Below is a list of some facilities that currently, or will upon completion, utilize natural ventilation.

Apple Spaceship

natural hybrid ventilation appleThe new Apple building often referred to as”The Spaceship” or “The Mothership”, will allow cool air to flow freely throughout the building, ventilating naturally 75% of the year

This massive structure will have a diameter larger than the Pentagon. Upon completion 7,000 trees and plants will cover 80% of the grounds. Furthermore, these plants will produce some of the fruits and vegetables served in the on-site cafeteria.  The entire facility will be autonomous from the city’s energy grid, running primarily off of solar power. The “Spaceship” is scheduled to open in 2017.

A rooftop ventilator will allow the building to go without heating or air-conditioning nine months of the year. Openable windows and smart air intake design will ensure that the air is flowing at the proper rate to cool the space without causing drafts or excess wind.

PNC Tower

The PNC Bank Tower in Pittsburgh, PAnatural hybrid ventilation PNC, also utilizes Natural Hybrid Ventilation. The building ventilates naturally 42% of the year.

The building’s facade and solar chimney — the largest in a modern U.S. office building — work together to help move the warm air up and out of the workspace. This elaborate ventilation system is one of its kind.

The two-layered facade wraps around the building. The outer windows automatically pop open when they sense that temperature and humidity are at the right level. Inside, vents open to let the fresh air to enter. when it gets too warm, the solar chimney opens up and sucks the hot air right out.

You can read more about the ventilation of PNC tower in this great article at fastcoexist.com.

Googleplex

natural hybrid ventilation googleGoogle’s headquarters in Mountain View, California (known affectionately as the Googleplex) is one of the greenest office parks in the world.

Google has released a bold new plan to redevelop four sites at its campus to be more environmentally sustainable in terms of energy and ventilation. This plan would use translucent canopies to cover buildings and outdoor areas. Designed to allow natural daylight and ventilation throughout the facility. This design has the building become part of the environment instead of simple in it.

Unfortunately, the city of Mountain View was not ready for such a revolutionary concept. They rejected the design last year.  Google has yet to unveil plans for their new facility, but you can be sure that it will utilize smarter ventilation concepts.

The Future of Natural Hybrid Ventilation

When Google and Apple both come to the same conclusions, you know something is a good idea. Natural hybrid ventilation design is common in office buildings throughout Europe and Asia. In countries like Germany, England, Japan, and China it became used for years. Only in the last few years has it started to spring up in the U.S. More and more architectural plans include green ventilation solutions. Additionally, more and more people are open to the idea of living in natural conditions.

At Moffitt Corporation we like to see better, smarter ventilation in every facility. We’re continuously working on new products and new designs to help your building take advantage of natural solutions. Contact the design team today to learn how we can put natural ventilation into your office building.

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