We talk about this with... LEOPOLDO BUSA

#COMFORT - Building well-being

Energy retrofits, building envelope, manual and mechanical ventilation and living comfort, noise mitigation, air quality, HVAC and Domotics, solar radiation, shading systems, green roofs and walls: all this and more in the spotlight at MADE expo – BuildSMART.


A packed programme will feature the return of events that have attracted thousands of industry professionals to the fair, including BuildSMART. One of the foremost events focusses on comfort from every angle: experts will be delving into what makes for living comfort. There is now widespread awareness that green buildings mean much more than the building envelope: the time has come to actually change our mind-set and enhance the overall mental and physical well-being of the occupants of buildings.

 

But there is another side of comfort that is often overlooked because it is “invisible”: what are we breathing? Sick Building Syndrome has become a hot topic. It is described as a phenomenon affecting building occupants who experience symptoms of ill health probably due to flaws in HVAC systems, certain types of building materials, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), moulds, improper exhaust ventilation of ozone or lack of adequate air filtration.

 

How can living comfort become a factor in the design phase? The MADE expo Monitoring Unit turned to Leopoldo Busa, an architect, energy advisor and CasaClima expert in indoor environmental quality, for the answer. His practice, BioSafe, specialises in bioclimatic architecture and provides professional support to architects and contractors.

Let’s ask the expert

Modern building practices offer huge opportunities to save energy and care for the environment. What are the latest trends? 

"Everyone involved in the building construction sector today, especially architects, need to expand the concept of comfort. Indoor comfort is no longer limited to providing efficient electricals and plumbing: it is the building envelope itself that plays a crucial role, and must consist of non-toxic, hygroscopic, breathable and more importantly, certified materials.  Comfort is acquiring the status of a tool for prevention and environmental health that is about more than simply lowering insulation costs and ensuring air-tightness: the concept of comfort is now putting people and human health in the equation"

What causes “Sick Building Syndrome”?

“Sick Building Syndrome” is not an actual disease but rather a series of symptoms affecting people who spend long hours in closed spaces. The symptoms were first described in the United States around the mid-1970s, when major energy-saving measures led to the construction of air-tight office buildings made out of materials that used “questionable” chemicals and managed by centrally controlled HVAC systems Sick Building Syndrome is associated with the typical symptoms of acute intoxication caused by environmental pollutants.

 

Best practices: how important is temperature and humidity control in our homes?

Opening the windows even just for a few minutes every day will help keep homes healthy and prevent the build-up of mould and fungi. Installing a simple hygrometer in the home can also measure the moisture content in the home, for instance after cooking, bathing or hanging laundry to dry indoors. It’s time to replace doors and windows when the hygrometer shows 65% relative humidity. It is not always easy to open the windows as often as we should (at least five minutes every two hours), and in winter it allows precious heat to escape, but there are mechanical ventilation devices on the market that constantly change the air without having to open the windows. Keeping indoor temperatures slightly under 20°C and investing in a heat recovery ventilator. The system replaces stale air with fresh warm air via a heat exchanger, laying the foundations for a more sophisticated building design embedded with “low-emission” materials.