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Article
Publication date: 2 October 2018

Qi Jie Kwong, Jamalunlaili Abdullah, Sheng Chuan Tan, Tzer Hwai Gilbert Thio and Win Shyang Yeaw

Maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ) in the built environment is essential to assure health, safety and productivity of occupants. The purpose of this paper is to…

Abstract

Purpose

Maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ) in the built environment is essential to assure health, safety and productivity of occupants. The purpose of this paper is to report on the preliminary IAQ assessment of selected air-conditioned laboratories and naturally ventilated workshops in a tropical education institution.

Design/methodology/approach

The concentration levels of five major indoor air pollutants (IAPs) – carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, respirable particulates, formaldehyde (HCHO) and total volatile organic compounds (TVOC) in each sampling area were measured using calibrated air sampling sensors and the tracer-gas analysis was used to determine the ventilation effectiveness. A questionnaire survey was carried out concurrently to study the prevalence of sick building syndrome (SBS) among users of laboratories and workshops and the data collected were statistically analysed using χ2 test.

Findings

The air pollutant levels were found to be below the threshold limit values set in the local code of practice on IAQ, except for two of the air-conditioned laboratories. This is possibly due to insufficient ventilation, smaller floor area per occupant ratio, long-term exposure to chemical substances, and improper disposal of the used chemical substances. The total particulate levels were higher in naturally ventilated workshops because such spaces were assigned for mechanical works which involved grinding, welding and fabrication. Besides, it was identified that most of the air contaminant levels were not normally distributed (p<0.05) within the sampling areas and SBS like dry eyes, watery eyes, tiredness and dry throat were reported in both laboratories and workshops. The outcomes of this work suggest that an increase of ventilation rate was necessary to reduce the concentration of the IAPs in air-conditioned laboratories and improved housekeeping would help mitigate the prevalence of SBS symptoms.

Research limitations/implications

This research was carried out in selected laboratories and workshops in a Malaysian educational institution and only five major IAPs stipulated in the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) code of practice were measured.

Practical implications

The results of this study will enable facility engineers and managers to understand the IAPs concentration levels and potential SBS problems in academic laboratories and workshops. The recommended strategies can be considered to improve IAQ conditions in such spaces.

Originality/value

Most of the previously conducted IAQ studies focused only on commonly occupied building spaces such as offices, classrooms and houses. Information of the quality of air and SBS conditions in experimental facilities in developing nations that is available is currently very limited. This case study provides detailed information on IAQ in laboratories and workshops in Malaysia with focuses on the concentration levels of particular harmful gases, the prevalence of SBS among users of these facilities and the appropriate mitigation strategies. The results presented are of value to both academic and industry communities.

Details

Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7835

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 May 2020

Qi Jie Kwong, Jim Yexin Yang, Oliver Hoon Leh Ling, Rodger Edwards and Jamalunlaili Abdullah

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the thermal environment of two engineering testing centres cooled via different means using computational fluid dynamics (CFD)…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the thermal environment of two engineering testing centres cooled via different means using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), focussing on the indoor temperature and air movement. This computational technique has been used in the analysis of thermal environment in buildings where the profiles of thermal comfort parameters, such as air temperature and velocity, are studied.

Design/methodology/approach

A pilot survey was conducted at two engineering testing centres – a passively cooled workshop and an air-conditioned laboratory. Electronic sensors were used in addition to building design documentation to collect the required information for the CFD model–based prediction of air temperature and velocity distribution patterns for the laboratory and workshop. In the models, both laboratory and workshop were presumed to be fully occupied. The predictions were then compared to empirical data that were obtained from field measurements. Operative temperature and predicted mean vote (PMV)–predicted percentage dissatisfied (PPD) indices were calculated in each case in order to predict thermal comfort levels.

Findings

The simulated results indicated that the mean air temperatures of 21.5°C and 32.4°C in the laboratory and workshop, respectively, were in excess of the recommended thermal comfort ranges specified in MS1525, a local energy efficiency guideline for non-residential buildings. However, air velocities above 0.3 m/s were predicted in the two testing facilities, which would be acceptable to most occupants. Based on the calculated PMV derived from the CFD predictions, the thermal sensation of users of the air-conditioned laboratory was predicted as −1.7 where a “slightly cool” thermal experience would prevail, but machinery operators in the workshop would find their thermal environment too warm with an overall sensation score of 2.4. A comparison of the simulated and empirical results showed that the air temperatures were in good agreement with a percentage of difference below 2%. However, the level of correlation was not replicated for the air velocity results, owing to uncertainties in the selected boundary conditions, which was due to limitations in the measuring instrumentation used.

Research limitations/implications

Due to the varying designs, the simulated results of this study are only applicable to laboratory and workshop facilities located in the tropics.

Practical implications

The results of this study will enable building services and air-conditioning engineers, especially those who are in charge of the air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation (ACMV) system design and maintenance to have a better understanding of the thermal environment and comfort conditions in the testing facilities, leading to a more effective technical and managerial planning for an optimised thermal comfort management. The method of this work can be extended to the development of CFD models for other testing facilities in educational institutions.

Social implications

The findings of this work are particularly useful for both industry and academia as the indoor environment of real engineering testing facilities were simulated and analysed. Students and staff in the higher educational institutions would benefit from the improved thermal comfort conditions in these facilities.

Originality/value

For the time being, CFD studies have been carried out to evaluate thermal comfort conditions in various building spaces. However, the information of thermal comfort in the engineering testing centres, of particular those in the hot–humid region are scantily available. The outcomes of this simulation work showed the usefulness of CFD in assisting the management of such facilities not only in the design of efficient ACMV systems but also in enhancing indoor thermal comfort.

Details

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, vol. 10 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6099

Keywords

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