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Academic project: Fresh air for free: comparing natural and mechanical ventilation systems in the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) and Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy (MSM)

Status: Completed | Date: May 2016

Person: Nevena Nikolic | Subject: Mechanical Engineering, final year | Supervisor: Dr Shaun Fitzgerald

Project summary: An investigation of the difference between a naturally ventilated and mechanically ventilated building, focusing on air quality and thermal comfort of each building, plus detailed evaluation of the naturally ventilated building’s performance in terms of air quality, thermal comfort and energy use.

Key findings: The survey and the monitoring results show that in terms of both thermal comfort and air quality, the IfM (a naturally ventilated building) performs better than the MSM (a mechanically ventilated building). This suggests that simpler, naturally ventilated buildings might be a better solution than mechanically ventilated ones.

Recommendations: Future buildings on the West Cambridge site should be designed using a simple, natural ventilation strategy rather than a more complex mechanical/hybrid system, at least until it is proven that a more complex system can be delivered with superior results.

How has it been used? The report has been sent to relevant buildings managers and the Building Energy Manager in Estate Management to see if there are ways the ventilation systems can be better used.