Dubai, UAE: It is often discussed if IEQ requirements and energy efficiency of a building can be balanced. While some in the construction industry are not so positive in their response, several industry experts have said that there is no conflict between the two, and any problems that may exist can be solved by identifying the problem and fixing it.
Jyoti Sharma, Senior Specialist for Education Facilities Design at the Infrastructure and Facilities Division of Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), is also of the opinion that balance can be achieved. “When they talk about IAQ, for example,” she says, “they talk about the amount of ventilation. That is what they mean when they say you can’t have both; but the reality is, without increasing ventilation, you can get pretty good quality of air.”
Sharma says as the minimum rate indicated in ASHRAE standards is already high, a room/building is getting sufficient good quality air. Instead, she says, it is important to identity the risk. She explains: “If the risk is CO2, then one way you can improve IAQ is to install CO2 monitors. We do that in our schools. You use the monitors, and only if the air quality goes down does the ventilation [system] kick in. So you’re not wasting energy, and most of the time, low air quality is not even an issue. The only time it may become an issue is, say, in an auditorium full beyond its capacity. Ventilation is designed for full capacity, but if the auditorium does become too full, you kick in a little bit more air. Actually, the system will automatically do that. That’s not a waste of energy.”
According to Sharma, the problem of inefficient energy use occurs when people fail to understand the logic of design standards and elements, and instead, they go after the points. She says that engineers must take into account the client’s energy consumption when designing. Making a strong argument, she says: “We need people who are going to ask questions and who are able to understand and say, “Okay, why did they put CO2 monitors as a point in Estidama?” We need those kinds of people, because they realise that we shouldn’t just be dumping air for no reason. Many in this country just thoughtlessly dump cold, conditioned air. It’s ridiculous. In fact, there should be a penalty for that. You should lose points for that, not gain points.”