A lack of rigorous design methods and comprehensive performance data has slowed U.S. acceptance of natural ventilation technology, which proponents argue can increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings as well as improve indoor environmental conditions. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) new LoopDA 1.0 software program (for Loop Design and Analysis) helps fill this critical information gap.
The LoopDA simulation tool enables building designers and engineers to determine the size of natural ventilation openings needed to provide desired airflow rates. Previously, building designers have had to make decisions using trial and error or based on past experiences. Although LoopDA 1.0 provides “first-cut” estimates rather than final results, it is a great improvement over the former “more art than science” approach, according to NIST developer Stuart Dols.
As described at a recent technical conference in the Netherlands* LoopDA allows users of the computer program to sketch rooms and vertical sections of a building, the location of natural ventilation openings (e.g., windows, doors and ducts) and the paths the air should take through the building (i.e., pressure loops). The program then enables designers to determine the size of the natural ventilation openings needed to control indoor air quality and thermal comfort using an engineering-based design process.
John Blair | NIST
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