As an alternative to mechanical (fan-forced) ventilation, this approach relies on air pressure and the natural forces of wind and buoyancy to deliver fresh air to indoor spaces. The benefits? Natural ventilation provides free cooling, reduces energy and operating costs, and improves indoor air quality – and the productivity of those who live and work in it.
Opportunities for natural ventilation were explored during the project’s design phase. Although this part of Kentucky has hot humid summers and cold dry winters, Berea enjoys many periods in spring and fall and even in the summer when windows can be open and air conditioning systems turned off. As built, the residence hall includes operable windows (meaning, they can be opened) throughout; student lounges also have operable awning windows. Important for air movement and comfort, all rooms, lounges and lobbies include reversible ceiling fans. In addition, sensors detect whenever a student’s window is open and automatically shut off their room fan coil unit (for heating or cooling) for energy savings.
While the new residence hall isn’t 100% naturally ventilated, the building’s design and placement of key features allow natural ventilation via open windows and hallway doors. Above all else, the air quality system allows for individual thermal comfort control without negatively impacting the energy efficiency of the mechanical fresh air delivery system.