Some of the most common indoor air contaminants are:
There are guidelines for environmental emissions offered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, especially on the subject of air pollution due to product emissions.
Designing spaces for visual comfort is in part practical, in part aesthetic, and includes artificial lighting, day lighting, and the creation of visually interesting environments. There are a number of lighting strategies that you can employ to create a high quality visual environment. Some recommendations are:
Whenever possible integrate natural lighting into your plans. Studies have shown that natural lighting affects people's mood and as well as their comfort levels. So provide as much daylight as possible without impacting thermal comfort.
Overlaying all of these principles is the need for aesthetics—designing for visual interest. So, whenever possible provide a view of outdoors as well as access to outdoors. Try to include natural environments between the interior and exterior—bring a little nature to the indoors. Balance the use of such elements as scale, color, texture and pattern, as well as artwork and plants to create visual interest. Conversely, don’t be boring: avoid uniformity and avoid visual chaos—keep designs clean and simple.
There are a few standards for thermal comfort in buildings that have been set over the years by building and design industry organizations. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 55 presents detailed information on why building occupants complain about thermal conditions in a building. Air temperature and humidity, as you might imagine, is high on the list—but there’s a great deal more. Radiant temperature surfaces such as walls and ceilings—too hot; too cold—cause complaints, as well as floor temperature. Vertical temperature differences and drafts, causing convective heat transfer- add to the list. Secondary factors include daily and seasonal change in temperature and humidity. In addition, the age of the occupant plays a role and even the adaptability of individuals to change.
Indoor air quality requirements are addressed in ASHRAE Standard 62.1 (commercial buildings) and ASHRAE Standard 62.2 (residential buildings). The standards spell out minimum ventilation rates for new construction, as well as information on improving indoor air quality in existing buildings. They also provide lists of maximum contaminant levels for those spaces to maintain acceptable indoor quality, which in turn minimizes the potential for adverse health effects on building occupants.
There are five goals to providing a superior acoustic environment.
Indoor environmental quality (IEQ), a concept often overlooked in building designs of the past, has only recently become an area of focus for the design community. With the recent growth of the sustainable design movement, many factors aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of the building occupant are gaining momentum. Architects and building owners are beginning to realize that healthier and more comfortable building occupants are happier and more productive. As a result, many of today’s sustainable building designs take the issue of indoor environmental quality that includes comfort into consideration. To achieve IEQ designers focus on comfort from a thermal, acoustical and visual perspective, as well as addressing indoor air quality.
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