Las Vegas Architect Articles on Frequently Asked Questions

• Creating a Healthy Indoor Environment

Recently health has become a major concern in the world of architecture and more specifically medical oriented architecture as it has rapidly become more important to prevent the spread of virus, germs, and diseases. There are many things that can be done to your residential or commercial building design that can improve the overall health of the people using the spaces. This blog post will cover information pertaining to lighting, indoor air quality, air conditioning, and other general building conditions.

Lighting-Sunlight is good for people, UVC light kills germs and viruses. Modern buildings have been using windows and skylights that block UV light because it can bleach textiles found within the building. It may be beneficial to remove the UV filter on a skylight or the windows that shine on a majority of a room as it would help to sterilize the room’s air. Alternatively UVC light bulbs can be purchased to help clean the air without the need for direct sunlight. UVC light is not the only countermeasure to preventing the spread of germs, though it is useful for killing germs.

Air Conditioning-A common air conditioning system found in Las Vegas commercial buildings is a mixed air system. Generally air is blown from the ceiling then allowed to swirl around the room it is then returned back to the AC unit through a return on the ceiling (as shown below). The advantages of this system are that it is cheap and every HVAC tech knows how to install and repair it. However since the air is swirling throughout the room, it is very easy for pollutants and microorganisms to travel from person to person in the room. One solution for this issue is to use a different air conditioning system like displacement air conditioning. This system pumps air into the room from the bottom but still returns the air through the ceiling (as shown below). Meaning that any particles in the air are taken up to the return sooner rather than being allowed to swirl around the room first. Germs and other particles are removed from the vicinity of people much quicker, significantly decreasing the likelihood of inhaling harmful pollutants. The displacement ventilation system is statistically better than the mixed air system. It can also be beneficial to combine with the practice of utilizing UV lighting to clean air. Installing a UVC light on the return duct of your AC unit will help to kill germs, viruses, and pollen so that they do not get recirculated to harm people.

General Environmental Conditions-It has become widely known that mold is bad and it is definitely in your best interest to remove any and all mold within your building. Fresh air is also important, as architects in Las Vegas we have found that building owners will commonly close their fresh air vent on their building during the summer months. They do this to assist their AC units in cooling during the heat wave days. That may be satisfactory during that period of the year, except it is common that the owners do not reopen the fresh air vent when the moderate heat months arrive. A proper fix for this problem would be to install an air to air heat exchanger that does the work of blocking heat from fresh air. Fresh air design best practices would include intake of only the air appropriate for the people and activities in the building. Automated air sensors and controls are available. Where construction costs or other factors prohibit using automated systems or opening and closing of ventilation, building occupants can set up procedures to improve indoor air quality without construction costs. If the air to air heat exchanger or open fresh air vent aren’t enough for your building, it could be helpful to open a window or door to let extra fresh air in to the building.

These are only a few tips to help create a healthy environment. Before constructing anything we recommend hiring a licensed architect or engineer to design your system properly. SSA architecture is always happy to provide you with more information, you can reach us at 702-873-1718. Here at SSA Architecture your first commercial project consultation at our Las Vegas Office is always free. More information on this topic is provided in the corresponding video found on our YouTube channel here. A healthy environment is important in any building, particularly those in the healthcare field. You can find information on our other work as medical architects in Las Vegas here.