Designing a building for comfort


Transcript of video

Like all mammals, we are relatively fragile beings.

Avoiding exposure to excessive heat, cold, rain or wind is one of our primary needs.

And so we have come up with various strategies, to protect ourselves from the outside environment.

From caves, to huts, to houses, we have gradually transformed our habitat and way of living.

Industrialisation in the late 18th century marked the beginning of great change in the way people lived.

New building materials, energy sources, and the invention of electricity, improved methods of lighting and heating. This drove the need to better control indoor climates.

At the beginning of the 20th century, indoor comfort and well-being became specific subjects for consideration.

Today, in the urbanised world, people are spending around 90% of their time either in buildings or vehicles.

Being comfortable in life, work, play and sleep is key to well-being.

So, what is comfort and how does it work?

Comfort is a state of physical ease and well-being in a given environment.

It is experienced through a number of conscious and unconscious interactions we have between three areas:

The way our bodies work and interact with our environment.

The main parameters of the environment around us (indoor temperature, sound level, quantity and quality of light, fresh air supply and so on…).

The way we feel as a whole (if we are tired, happy…) and the kind of social environment we live in.

Our perception of indoor comfort is affected by four main factors:

(determined by air temperature, humidity, etc…)

(determined by view, luminosity, etc.)

(determined by noise from outdoors, vibrations, etc.)

(determined by fresh air supply, pollutants, odours, etc.)

The correct balance of these factors gives us indoor environments that we are happy to use, where we function more efficiently and feel well.

Understanding these comfort factors is crucial to design happy, health, energy-efficient buildings.

Why is designing for comfort important?

Technological advances have led to the improvement of many aspects of living indoors, particularly artificial lighting, heating and cooling, but these same advances also introduced unwanted consequences…

Firstly HEALTH
For example, some present day housing conditions have been linked to numerous health issues (respiratory illnesses, allergies, tiredness…). Currently on a very small minority of all UK building stock can be considered as healthy. It is possible to change this! Investing in more healthy and comfortable buildings is becoming increasingly recognised as a wise investment, as it can directly improve productivity and reduce medical costs.

The second area of unintended consequence of technological advances is on our ENVIRONMENT.
To build, use and maintain indoor environments, we use up significant natural resources.
In the UK, buildings represent 40% of the total energy consumption. Better design of the building envelope can make a huge difference in reducing energy use and therefore our impact on the environment.

However, improvements in comfort and health, on one hand, and reductions in environmental impact on the other, can sometimes appear as conflicting goals when designing and constructing buildings.

However, both these goals are key for all stakeholders in the building industry; architects, designers, developers and contractors as well as building users.

Saint-Gobain’s objective is to deliver the best solutions possible to build more sustainably and deliver comfort to building users.