Future-Proofing Buildings for Enhanced Indoor Air Quality and Thermal Comfort: An Opportunity for Resilient Tomorrow

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Air Quality".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 September 2024 | Viewed by 9066

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK
Interests: sustainable built environment; low carbon building; smart building; building performance; energy efficiency; thermal comfort; indoor air quality; building simulation

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Guest Editor
College of Architecture and Design, Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University, Dhahran 34754, Saudi Arabia
Interests: sustainable design; healthy buildings; indoor environmental quality; sustainable development; building simulation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Institute of Building Structure, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Brno University of Technology, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic
Interests: Indoor climate; building physics; daylighting; indoor environmental quality

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The building sector is currently responsible for around 40% of global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, making it to one of the major contributors of climate change. In response to this, and to stop global warming and build a better climate future, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasises the key role of decarbonising the building sector and meeting net-zero emission targets by 2050. This makes it vital to future-proof the buildings, both the new and the existing ones, not only to reduce their energy use and carbon footprint, but also allow them to cope with the extreme weather conditions (e.g., rapid temperature rise/drop and heatwaves), providing comfortable and healthy indoor environments for the occupants. Since the vast majority of society spend 90% of their time indoors, and with the fact that the air quality regulations and standards largely focus on the outdoor environment, it is also crucial to understand the drivers of the behaviours affecting indoor air quality (IAQ) in buildings, as well as the key sources that form the indoor air pollutants. These can help to develop appropriate strategies to improve IAQ and enhance occupants’ wellbeing and productivity in climate-resilient buildings.

From a research point of view, indoor thermal comfort and air quality have remained key challenges in creating resilient buildings, and therefore require a deep insight. This Special Issue aims to gather comprehensive research studies in indoor thermal comfort and air quality to help shape a resilient future. The topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Indoor environment and air quality monitoring and occupants’ perception;
  • The impact of energy use and occupants’ behaviour on indoor air quality;
  • The interaction between outdoor air quality, indoor environment, occupants’ behaviour, and building energy use;
  • The effect of natural and mechanical ventilation in indoor air quality and thermal comfort;
  • Subjective indoor air quality and thermal comfort;
  • Summer-time overheating and winter discomfort;
  • The impact of energy efficient buildings on IAQ and thermal comfort;
  • Thermal performance of buildings;
  • Building adaptation and thermal comfort;
  • Climate change and resilient buildings;
  • Health, occupant performance, and productivity in climate-responsive buildings;
  • Personalised comfort and IAQ in net-zero buildings.

Dr. Sahar Zahiri
Prof. Dr. Hasim Altan
Prof. Dr. Jitka Mohelnikova
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Atmosphere is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • indoor air quality
  • occupant behaviour
  • occupants health and wellbeing
  • thermal comfort
  • thermal resilience and adaptation
  • overheating
  • natural ventilation
  • building performance
  • energy efficiency
  • net-zero carbon building

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

20 pages, 3062 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Filtration Efficiency of Various Filter Media in Addressing Wildfire Smoke in Indoor Environments: Importance of Particle Size and Composition
by Tanya Shirman, Elijah Shirman and Sissi Liu
Atmosphere 2023, 14(12), 1729; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14121729 - 24 Nov 2023
Viewed by 2070
Abstract
Sub-micron particles are ubiquitous in the indoor environment, especially during wildfire smoke episodes, and have a higher impact on human health than larger particles. Conventional fibrous air filters installed in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems play an important role in controlling [...] Read more.
Sub-micron particles are ubiquitous in the indoor environment, especially during wildfire smoke episodes, and have a higher impact on human health than larger particles. Conventional fibrous air filters installed in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems play an important role in controlling indoor air quality by removing various air pollutants, including particulate matter (PM). However, it is evident that the removal efficiency of wildfire smoke PM and its effect on filter performance is significantly under-studied. This study delves into the size-specific removal efficiency of pine needle smoke, a representative of wildfire smoke and emissions. We test an array of filter media with minimum efficiency reporting values (MERV) spanning 11–15. Both size-resolved particle number concentrations and mass concentrations were measured using an Optical Particle Sizer (OPS, TSI, Inc.) and a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS, TSI, Inc.). Furthermore, we characterize the filter media morphology and smoke particles deposited on filter fibers using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) to gain insights into the interaction dynamics of these particles. Our findings add to the comprehension of the relationship between MERV designations and smoke removal efficiency. Such insight can inform standards and guidelines and equip decision-makers with the knowledge needed to initiate measures for mitigating the impact of air pollution, specifically on the indoor environment. Full article
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26 pages, 7374 KiB  
Article
Examining the Risk of Summertime Overheating in UK Social Housing Dwellings Retrofitted with Heat Pumps
by Sahar Zahiri and Rajat Gupta
Atmosphere 2023, 14(11), 1617; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14111617 - 28 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 920
Abstract
The UK government has announced its ten-point plan to annually install 600,000 low-carbon heat pumps by 2028. However, there is a lack of evidence showing potential overheating risk in dwellings retrofitted with heat pumps. This paper examines the prevalence and magnitude of summertime [...] Read more.
The UK government has announced its ten-point plan to annually install 600,000 low-carbon heat pumps by 2028. However, there is a lack of evidence showing potential overheating risk in dwellings retrofitted with heat pumps. This paper examines the prevalence and magnitude of summertime overheating across 24 naturally ventilated social housing dwellings retrofitted with ground source heat pumps (GSHPs). The dwellings are located in a socially deprived area in Oxford (UK). The empirical study included longitudinal monitoring of indoor temperatures in the living rooms and bedrooms during the non-heating seasons of 2021 and 2022 (May–September), which included a record-breaking heatwave in July 2022. Indoor temperature and CO2 levels in bedrooms were monitored across a subset of six dwellings alongside the monitoring of window opening state in three bedrooms to understand the effect of natural ventilation in removing excess heat. About 136 thermal comfort surveys were conducted to ascertain the subjective responses of residents. Overheating risk assessment was carried out using CIBSE static and adaptive methods, which revealed that summertime overheating was prevalent across half of the dwellings in the non-heating season of 2022, as compared to 17% overheated dwellings in 2021. Bungalows with upgraded cavity wall insulation and top floor flats facing south and south-west had a propensity to overheat. The variation in indoor temperature and CO2 levels across a small sample also indicated the relationship between overheating and residents’ behaviour. Given that the majority of the dwellings were occupied by retired elderly people with low incomes who are vulnerable to heat and cannot afford active forms of cooling, it is vital to deploy passive design measures, such as appropriate shading devices that are suitable for a heating-dominated climate and enhanced ventilation, as part of home energy retrofits. Implementing reversible heat pumps coupled with solar PVs can provide cooling during heatwaves while delivering low-carbon heat in the winter. Full article
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19 pages, 2318 KiB  
Article
Thermal Comfort Assessment in University Classrooms: A Discriminant Analysis for Categorizing Individuals According to Gender and Thermal Preferences
by Iasmin Lourenço Niza, Inaiele Mendes da Luz and Evandro Eduardo Broday
Atmosphere 2023, 14(9), 1325; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14091325 - 23 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1226
Abstract
The concern with the well-being of users in buildings has become increasingly essential, covering aspects related to health, energy efficiency, and productivity. The thermal environment evaluation in buildings has become more frequent due to the time people spend inside them. In this context, [...] Read more.
The concern with the well-being of users in buildings has become increasingly essential, covering aspects related to health, energy efficiency, and productivity. The thermal environment evaluation in buildings has become more frequent due to the time people spend inside them. In this context, this study aimed to analyze thermal comfort in classrooms at a Brazilian University. During the autumn, 50 measurements were performed, resulting in 519 valid responses. The results of the linear regression analysis revealed that the thermal comfort range for females was 20.39–22.19 °C, while for males it was 19.47–22.56 °C. Through discriminant analysis, participants were classified based on their thermal sensation vote (TSV), predicted mean vote (PMV), and thermal preference votes (PREF), achieving a success rate of 76.1% for females and 81.6% for males in forming the groups, which demonstrates the effectiveness of discriminant functions in predicting thermal comfort for both groups. These results highlight the importance of considering gender differences in the search for thermal comfort conditions and providing guidelines that promote the well-being of occupants and the conscious use of energy. This implies adjusting the thermal conditions according to the specific needs of males and females in classrooms, always seeking to provide a suitable environment for activities, and considering energy efficiency and users’ productivity. Full article
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