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Science May End Our Need For Airconditioning

Air conditioning may become a thing of the past, as researchers continue to study the use of natural ventilation in inner city buildings.

Researchers Nick Locke of Opus Central Laboratories and Michael Donn of Victoria University are investigating the technical and economic viability of naturally ventilating inner city buildings. The research is an investment of the Public Good Science Fund, its aim is to reduce reliance on air conditioning and mechanical air handling systems.

“The use of natural ventilation in preference to existing mechanical environmental control systems has the potential for considerable savings in energy usage and operating costs and indirectly reducing the environmental impacts of commercial buildings” said Mr Locke.

Very few commercial buildings make use of natural ventilation in their design. The research is using the Victoria University School of Architecture building to contrast the existing mechanical ventilation system with design alternatives incorporating natural ventilation.

“Architects and developers are expected to increasingly incorporate natural ventilation in their buildings because of the degree of personal control and air quality it offers” said Mr Donn.

“Natural ventilation is often ruled out for urban buildings because of today’s need to guarantee the performance of the indoor environment” he said.

“Energy efficient building ventilation is looking at reliable ways of predicting wind and thermally induced indoor air movement in existing and new urban buildings”.

The research has incorporated a number of natural ventilation design tools and analysis techniques such as wind tunnel studies, computational fluid dynamics, dynamic thermal modelling and traffic noise models.

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