The Nature of Air

When imagining clean, rejuvenating air, one might conjure visions of high mountain-tops or misty waterfalls—in other words, pristine nature.

When imagining clean, rejuvenating air, one might conjure visions of high mountain-tops or misty waterfalls—in other words, pristine nature. In reality, plants, animals, and even underlying geology pose numerous challenges to air quality whether from airborne particulate matter, pollen, mold, bacteria or noxious gasses. Despite these many natural pollutants, Earth’s troposphere—the bottom layer of atmosphere—has remained clean, intact, and molecularly balanced over the hundreds of millions of years it has existed in this particular state of dynamic equilibrium. Utilizing only ambient energy and basic tenets of physics and chemistry, the mechanisms by which the atmosphere remains clean exemplify principles of circularity, synergy, and resource efficiency. Most of these cleaning mechanisms initiate from an interaction between the atmosphere and something else (plants, soils, oceans, rainfall), but arguably the most important atmospheric cleaning process is carried out by the atmosphere itself.

The Nature of Air

The Nature of Air: Economic and Bio-Inspired Perspectives on Indoor Air Quality Management,  the latest publication from Terrapin Bright Green sheds light on the financial burden of poor air quality as well as the atmospheric mechanisms by which earth is able to addresses air pollution in an energy efficient and circular manner. Sponsored by AtmosAir Solutions, the report explores how those same mechanisms can be brought indoors to support rethought indoor air quality management, and how one technology–bi-polar ionization –is doing just that.

This Terrapin Bright Green white paper represents another facet of the ever growing body of research into the human-nature connection. It outlays actionable information that companies can use to improve productivity, employee satisfaction, and the bottom line.

Poor indoor air quality has received greater attention as yet another deterrent of our mental and physical well-being. Despite a growing demand for healthy buildings, IAQ management has remained a design challenge as typical strategies, such as increased filtration, pit energy performance against air quality. Competing outcomes—in this case, energy-efficiency and well-being—can seem intractable, however nature provides a different perspective.

Terrapin Bright Green Blog

Abstract: Poor indoor air quality diminishes cognitive functioning. For employers, reduced work task performance translates into a lower return on their investment in employees. Indoor air quality management remains an industry challenge as efforts to improve air quality, and subsequent occupant wellness, often come at the expense of energy performance. Insights from atmospheric cleaning mechanisms have spurred the development of air purifying technology to realign air quality management with the fundamental processes found in nature. Doing so allows for better management of pollutants and helps to decouple air quality with the amount of air brought in from outside.

The Nature of Air

Header Image: Mist Rolls Down, Roland Batke-Mutschler, Unsplash

Advertisements

Biophilic Design & Rewilding- the secret sauce of sustainability?

Biophilia is emerging as the secret sauce of sustainability. It is not just about being able to see trees and fields from our windows, or having green plants within rooms, but something deeper and more profound.

The Cuerdon Valley Park Visitor Centre in Lancashire, the first UK project to be registered for and working towards Living Building Challenge certification, recently staged a project team biophilic design workshop (1), led by Joe Clancy using the Terrapin Bright Green guide ’14 Patterns of Biophilic Design’ (Joe, as an intern with Terrapin Bright Green was part of the guide team and co-author)

The workshop reviewed the design, construction and operation of the building from a new perspective, through each of the 14 patterns, covering aspects from light through to the layout of chairs and food to be served in the cafe.

 

Biophilia translates as love of nature and in design terms the consideration of how our innate relationship with nature can be addressed within buildings. We have evolved as part of nature, and as such the human mind and body function with greater efficiency and performance when natural elements are present. Biophilic design is ensuring that these elements and patterns are present.

Biophilic elements enhance wellbeing, foster the feel good factor, reduce building related illness and even improve health. For example light as in daylight, circadian lighting, differing light spectrums is being considered as a form of medicine, not only to reduce illness, but to improve and maintain health.

ReWilding
There is much talk of rewilding at present, and as rewilding nature and environments is not just about reintroducing wolf, lynx or other top of the chain predators but more about restoring or regenerating the natural environment ‘creating conditions that allow the emergence of natural responsiveness and development’(2)

We should learn from and apply rewilding thinking to our built environment,and in doing so rewild people, those who inhabit buildings, creating the conditions, through for eg biomimicry and biophilic applications, that allow (new and existing) buildings to breathe and to respond to natural and bioclimatic cycles. We are losing or removing our natural barometers from buildings, increasingly replacing them with SMART technologies, to satisfy a blinked focus on energy performance. In turn, this has weakened our intrinsic relationship with nature.(3)

It is recognised that a lack of connection with nature reduces our tolerance to respect the environment. However, enabling biophilic conditions that ‘rewild’ our built environment will improve user behaviour and increase respect for the sustainable function of buildings.

Biophilia could, therefore be a root cause solution to addressing our buildings sustainability performance, closing performance gaps, providing salutogenetic improvement on the health & well-being of those using the building, and providing business benefits relating to people costs and productivity

And, biophilic workshops are not just for green building design, but should be part of the start-up activities for any project, considering in addition to the building in use, the biophilic aspects of the construction process. Biophilic thinking applied to construction environment can address the stress, mental health and safety, productivity, enthusiasm and wellbeing of those working on our construction projects. Therefore, biophilic thinking could be a key to improving construction quality, environmental and safety compliance, productivity and hence costs.

On two, very recent, project sustainability review/audits, it has been encouraging to hear of construction organisations increasing awareness of biophilia through training related to health, sustainability and design.

(1) Report available soon.

(2) George Monbiot in Feral

(2) extract from FutuREstorative

Lynx Kitten Image:   www.conservationjobs.co.uk

Rewilding Building Image: Cuerdon Valley Park Visitor Centre

Rewilding People image – see – Last Child in the Woods Richard Louv

Images from Sense of Urgency presentation available on Slideshare.