Successful natural ventilation is determined by having high thermal comfort and adequate fresh air for the ventilated spaces, while having little or no energy use for active HVAC cooling and ventilation.

As energy costs continue to rise, and with heating and cooling costs accounting for about 40% of energy use, the popularity of natural ventilation as an alternative to traditional mechanical ventilation systems is rising.

Natural ventilation uses natural forces to enable a building to breathe by varying the opening of the building such as windows, louvres and skylights when the weather conditions allow. Australia’s climactic conditions of warm summers and mild winters provide ideal conditions for natural ventilation in buildings.

Natural ventilation is a key element of passive design – the design philosophy where a building envelope doesn’t require mechanical heating or cooling. Driven by the raised awareness of sustainability, internal climate control and desire for comfort, a reduced reliance on mechanical heating and cooling is seen as a critical component of modern commercial and residential design.

A new white paper commissioned by world leaders in window automation Arens International, explores the use of natural ventilation in modern design for achieving a number of benefits including:

Reducing costs:  Research shows buildings with natural ventilation can expect a reduction in capital costs of 10-15% in comparison to air-conditioned equivalents, as well as achieving significant reductions in operating costs with reports finding naturally ventilated offices have 25-33% lower annual energy costs.

Healthy and natural indoor environment: Fresh air is essential in buildings to alleviate odours, provide oxygen for respiration, and to increase thermal comfort.

A recent study found that only 50 per cent of occupants in the air-conditioned buildings were satisfied with the indoor temperature, compared with 77 per cent satisfaction in the naturally ventilated buildings.

Meeting Environmental Quality (EQ) standards: With Environmental Quality (EQ) standards becoming measurable, passive design features will become more important to building ratings. The Green Building Council of Australia recognises projects that provide high air quality to occupants, with natural ventilation options providing additional credits towards recognition.

The white paper also examines recent research findings undertaken by Arens International in conjunction with the University of Wollongong Sustainable Buildings Research Centre, which shows the performance, energy savings and costs savings of natural ventilation compared with HVAC systems across the four main climatic regions in Australia including Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane.

Click here to download the free white paper.