Human behaviour: The need for privacy supersedes that of energy-efficient healthy indoor air in naturally- ventilated buildings

Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, August 2019, Volume 2, #73

It is well established that the exchange of outdoor air with indoor air – ventilation – is effective, if outdoor air is clean, in reducing concentrations of indoor air pollutants, especially those generated from the indoor environment. Ventilation in naturally-ventilated buildings is more energy-efficient than air-conditioned buildings. Outdoor – indoor air exchange usually occurs through windows. When windows are opened, activities taking place in the indoor environment are visible to people with a direct line of sight into the indoor from the outdoor environment.

Depending on the intimate nature of activities in an indoor environment, ventilation could be a significant threat to privacy. A bedroom is an example of such an indoor environment. Depending on the culture of the people involved, the opening of windows could be considered as a compromise to privacy. A condominium and places where residential blocks are placed close to one another to the extent of an easy direct line of sight to neighbour’s indoor environment are of particular concern. It is not uncommon for occupants to cover their window panel with non-transparent materials or window blinds even when windows are closed to ensure the integrity of their privacy

It is essential for architects to ensure privacy is given highest priority when designing for effective ventilation in such environments mentioned above. If architects fail to give privacy a priority where it is highly sought by occupants, the human instinct of having privacy will set in and the supply of ventilation will be significantly compromised. Low ventilation rate will probably increase building occupants’ exposure to high concentrations of indoor air pollutants, especially in the indoor environments where there are several and major indoor sources of air pollutants.

73. Privacy_73

Do you want to know more about how ventilation could compromise privacy and how the need for privacy could compromise ventilation? Read Allocca et al. (2003), Hashim et al. (2006), and Tantasavasdi et al. (2001) papers.

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