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Making the Jump: Examining Indoor Air Quality to Breath Better

Proposal No


Program Length:

60 Minutes


Luke Leung 
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Chicago, IL


Stephen Ray 
SOM & North Park University
Chicago, IL

Presenter Experience:

Luke Leung: -ASHRAE Winter Conference, “Natural Ventilation in Tall Buildings,” January 2015 -ASHRAE Winter Conference, “Energy Use in Tall Buildings and Is Taller Healthier?,” January 2015 -GreenBuild USGBC, “Big Data,” October 2014 -AIA National Convention, “High Performance Design,” June 2014 -Chicago Architecture Foundation, “Connection and High Performance,” June 2014 -Living Future UnConference, “Cities: Longer Living, Lower Energy, Larger Output,” May 2014 -CTBUH, “Cities: Longer Living, Lower Energy, Larger Output,” 2014 Stephen Ray: -MIT Natural Ventilation Workshop, Natural Ventilation at SOM, August 2014, 20 people, 30 minutes -Facades Plus Chicago, Evolution of Breathable Building Facades, 7/25/14, 30 people, 30 minutes -ASHRAE Annual Conference 2013, Overview of Hybrid Ventilation Control System and Full Scale Monitoring, 06/26/13, 50 people, 40 minutes; -IBPSA Boston, Natural Ventilation Modeling Techniques, 9/2012, 40 people, 45 minutes.

Session Learning Objectives:

After the presentation, attendees will be able to identify environmental conditions that warrant more than standard air improvement techniques.

After the presentation, attendees will be able to specify natural ventilation control systems that help improve indoor air quality.

After the presentation, attendees will be able to quantitatively describe the improvement to indoor air quality provided by an internally ventilated double wall.

After the presentation, attendees will be able to apply lessons learned from indoor-air-improving strategies from three case studies.

After the presentation, attendees will be able to identify two options for advanced air filtration and cite measured performance of both.

Session Description:

Breathing fundamentally sustains human life. However, the World Health Organization recently found that one in eight of all global deaths are linked to polluted air, making air pollution the single largest environmental health risk in the world (WHO 2014, Ambient Air Quality and Health). Indoor air pollution is linked to over half of those deaths, accounting for 4.3 million lives per year. This great risk warrants the engineering and development of disruptive technologies and practices aimed at improving indoor air quality in the built environment. This presentation explores two key opportunities that we believe will help improve indoor quality: 1. The design and engineering of ventilated facades that help improve indoor air quality. 2. The design and engineering of advanced filtration systems that can work either independently or in tandem with ventilated facades in order to further optimize indoor air quality. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) brings twenty years of experience studying air quality around the world in order to illustrate how ventilated “breathing” facades can be designed and operated to improve indoor air quality. Just as natural ventilation has been more frequently integrated into buildings in order to provide low-energy cooling, outdoor air quality should be more closely monitored and used to control natural ventilation. Greenland Group Suzhou Center and Kunming Junfa Dongfeng Square, two SOM-designed supertall towers under construction in China, will serve as breathing façade case studies that illustrate how incorporating air quality monitors can help improve indoor air quality in naturally ventilated buildings. Within these case studies, historic air quality measurements and computational fluid dynamic models are deployed to illustrate the improvement in indoor air quality achieved. When natural ventilation is not feasible, other types of breathing facades can still be used to improve indoor air quality. Double wall facades, such as the one integrated into SOM’s Pearl River Tower, can help to create not only a thermal buffer between the interior and outdoors, but also flush any infiltration that would otherwise decrease indoor air quality. Airflow network modeling is used to show the air-cleaning impact of double-wall facades for systems with various MERV ratings. In conjunction with the development of breathing facades, SOM has also explored improving indoor air quality through advanced filtration techniques. Two types of filtration systems have been tested in the SOM Chicago offices to evaluate effectiveness at reducing PM 0.4 and PM 2.5 in the relatively controlled indoor environment. Each two-week study will be presented and compared using measured air quality data to identify which system led to the largest improvement in indoor air quality. The challenge of improving indoor air quality requires extensive consideration and collaboration between practitioners, researchers, governing bodies, and occupants. SOM has been working to improve air quality for decades. We are eager to share our research findings and practical experience in order to help address the growing need to improve indoor air quality.


Other – Advanced Air Filtration and Building Systems



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