Building Solutions to better live with Covid-19
The coronavirus is with us no matter what way we use to fight it as even a fully vaccinated person is possible to be infected. It is most likely becoming endemic so we have to find a way to move forward so as not to be unduly affected by its presence – you can’t kill it as it easily finds its way to mutate. Having Covid-19 present in our air is not a problem that we can solve so the next best thing is to find a way to manage it – by way of extracting it out once it is breathe out from an infected person. There are many ways to do it but we will now concentrate on how we can make our home safer to live. We will be managing our air or in better terms, directing how the air flows and this will be shown in the various examples designed by us to help mankind evade from infection as much as possible – it is after all a simple example of how we tweak our homes to reduce the amount of pathogens. We spent our lives in our home three quarter of our time; we should pay more attention to managing our environment rather than thinking of ways to eliminate the virus.
Anti-Covid Building Architectures
Anti-Covid Building Architecture
Why Anti-Covid Building?
What can you do if Covid 19 is present everywhere? Yes, we have been tackling this problem since January 2020 and we don’t seem to have the answer even when vaccines are available – with the spread of the Delta variant we seem to be lost. Since the virus was spread by our breath, we have been using face mask to help prevent it from spreading but even with all the other efforts on tow, we could only worry that it’s going to be a long fight. Scientists, Engineers and Epidemiologist have come to the conclusion that the virus, in the form of tiny droplets have been found hovering in the air for at least an hour after they have been expelled from our mouth and nose – which means that we have to find a way to de-nuke it before it enters into another person’s lung. This is a serious problem because it affects our life and it makes us worried sick. According to WHO, Covid-19 will probably be with us for a long time – it will become an endemic that we have to live with just like the flu.
Instead of us chasing for that magic shot that can bring Covid-19 to an end, it would be better that we look for ways to live with the virus – it is like the flu where we go for our annual shots to make us not succumb to the sickness. Thus we have to look at the way how our houses are built, in particular the way air circulates because air is now the medium where the virus is spread. Proper air ventilation is an afterthought when we go to put plan to our house as it seems to be not a necessary item because we have air conditioning which is anathema to having also a ventilation system – having air flowing in and out of our house (cooled or warmed) will mean energy lost which will mean a higher fuel bill. It is because of this energy lost thing that the CDC and ASHRAE does not recommend strict adherence to the installation of proper air ventilation system in the light of virus propagating through air droplets. But we have to find a way to avert the spread of coronavirus even if we were to have to face a rise in our fuel bill or else more people will die from the disease, and some of them might be our close relatives!
Since the problem is the air we breathe in, we will need to take a good look at how to manage that air that transpires between two or more persons. Of course one way is to wear mask but there is only so much a mask can do for you and bear in mind that it does not completely cover your mouth and nose – and what about your eyes? But we can’t be tied down to wearing mask all the time, right? Yes, we would like to ditch the mask as soon as we have attained herd immunity – and how long would that be? It would be best for us to take a look at how air transpires between two persons near to each other. The diagram below shows how infected air particles can easily be taken up by the other person, often without realising it – assuming that the two persons are sitting next to each other in a normally air conditioned space where the air travels from side (wall) to side (wall). But if you have your air conditioner blowing air from the ceiling, then you will notice that the down flowing air actually acts as an air barrier, isolating the air that you breathe out from being blown to the other person – the infected air droplets is made to be blown down to the floor and if possible taken out of the space. However, in this case, the air is recirculated back up from the floor and so it does not help in isolating the infected air.
Side flowing air help spread of disease
One way to rectify the problem of recirculated air is to take it out of the space – by way of having some device to extract it out of the system. The method is through the 'purpose directed airflow' and if we were to refer to the case where the air is blown from the top to the bottom (ceiling hung air blower) like in the diagram shown below, we can design an exit for the air based on the floor area. We could design an air outlet system on the floor or if it cost too much to retrofit, then we could at least fit an air exhaust device placed at the side of the wall. It is utmost importance that we capture the infected air droplets and in order to do this we suggest an outlet for the polluted air built on the floor level, either through a hollow channel under the floor or if the cost of retrofitting an under floor channel is an issue, then place a tube at the side of the wall to extract out the air. Now, having the air exhausting out of the system will require further action because as the air could be infected with harmful pathogens (coronavirus), it would only be responsible if we also filter out the harmful particles during the process. We could also doubly make it safe to either exhaust it out or have it recirculated before it is also sanitized. There are many ways to sanitize the air for example by way of neutralising it through a ultra-violet dosing or having the air sprayed with ethanol for a certain period. For those houses with a floor heating system, there will be cost saving when the two systems are built together – which might be the norm when we take a long view of the ever presence of harmful pathogens.
Air barrier formed flowing from top to bottom
The system adopted as shown by the above diagrams is not only for a room space but also can be arranged for working offices, hospitals and the likes. However, it would only be cost effective when it is designed in the system as when you start planning your house. But if you need to retrofit it, then you would have to bear the cost which could be substantial if the place is large. Another way which is not that targeted is to lay exhaust pipes along the side of the room and to fit it with an exhaust pump together with a filtering system. We will also have to tackle the problem of energy leak when we install ventilation, especially when the space is also air conditioned (or heating) for our comfort. There is however a solution in the form of a new air conditioning system where we made use of a new designed air blowing system – we called it the intelligent air conditioner.
Automatic PVC Air Curtain
As a result of us not touching objects to spread virus, there is now a real need to re-engineer the things that we have to touch with our hands - important object that we have to touch includes door knobs, lift buttons and toilet doors. One way to retrofit doors is to have it sensor enabled - that means making them able to remotely sense that someone is on the way to try open it. There are already door systems that are automatic but they normally cost a bundle to fit and even more to maintain (touchless doorways have to operate frequently) so it is not viable to fit them in our house. An alternative to the auto door is the pvc air curtain which is suitable for factories - it is also suitable for homes that have separate air conditioned spaces. PVC air curtain can be engineered to work automatically when it is fitted with infra-red sensors so it will allow touchless entry at an affordable cost - if security is not the issue. Where security is concerned, then a glass auto door is more suitable as when shut, it will prevent unauthorised entries. When integrated into the whole system (including security and ventilation), touchless door entries can help reduce energy bills as they can work smart to condition the different parts of a home with the right temperature and humidity - also suitable for factories where there is plenty of people moving around. The touchless PVC automatic door can be converted into a security enhanced glass door if cost is not the problem - however it will need a wider space to make it work.
You may want to look at how Auto PVC Air Curtain works here
Can Green Building do its part to keep us safe?
According to the World Green Building Council, 'a green building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life'. Green Buildings has these salient points:
• Efficient use of energy, water and other resources
• Use of renewable energies
• Pollution and waste reduction - enabling of re-use and recycling
• Good indoor environmental air quality - CDC advises it must have ventilation
• Use of materials that are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable
• Consideration of the environment in design, construction and operation
• Consideration of the quality of life of occupants in design, construction and operation – stay safe
• A design that enables adaptation to a changing environment – passive adaptation
However, not all countries must have the same criteria, as some will have different criteria to suit their particular needs. One of the most relevant criteria in the era of coronavirus is that of having adequate ventilation – which is normally not found in buildings. And we wonder why the covid-19 virus is spreading so fast – is it because we were very comfortable not having it as a priority? Indeed we were caught with our pants down, and we seem to be dragging our feet when it comes to the issue of proper ventilation – proper in the sense that there should be the introduction of fresh air to help dilute the air in our environment.
Can we have a green building which also incorporates ventilation?
It is a bit hard to achieve because both are on opposing sides. A green building will have to use as little energy as possible that assuming the energy comes from our grid and thus from fossil fuel. On the other hand if you incorporate ventilation, then there will be the issue of energy loss. So could we move in the middle path? It definitely could if we were to do some engineering tweak to it. We could of course run it by using renewable energy, say design it from the start – get off the grid. As for ventilation, we could also design it from the start by incorporating smart channels along the building to bring in fresh air and to extract out foul air with very little use of energy. Smart ventilation is only possible where there is wind to come by – wind can be diverted through devices on the roof just like what they do with roof turbines. And wind could help extract foul air out of the underground by some clever devices or by some chimney like structures that extract under floor air outwards to the atmosphere – some of these ideas were never thought off because there was not the need for it. But we are now facing tough times, one of them being the pandemic and the other being that we have burnt far too much of fuel. With these demand, architects will go to work out a way to have both a green index and a safe environment.
Window openings to ventilate the room?
What about Natural Ventilation - since CDC has recommended that we open our windows once a while?
Yes, natural ventilation when we throw open our windows. However it is not that straight forward case because opening our windows (some of them were not designed to be opened) will affect our air conditioning (or heating) because there will be energy loss - that is not what we can bear. But if we are more concerned with our health, then we will have to bear with a higher energy bill, or must we? We can of course go around it by redesigning our ventilation system. We would like to propose a new ventilation system that will not only bring in natural air (albeit with filtration) but will also help us generate energy at the same time. The system is called ‘natural assisted ventilation’ and is depicted in the below diagram.
Naturally Assisted Air Ventilation
Wind Assisted Ventilation
Naturally Assisted Ventilation
The 'Natural Assisted Ventilation' uses an ingeniously designed tower which helps to draw out air from a building space by way of natural wind forces. As depicted by the diagram, the ‘wind tower’ is a cylindrical tall tower that has an internal hollow to help draw away air from the building – the outer circumference of the tower is designed with a helical outer surface. As the wind blows unto the tower from different sides, the helical surface redirects the air in an upward fashion towards the top. The internal hollow of the tower which draws air from the building will direct the air upwards through the helical surface of the tower because of the many holes formed to connect the internal hollow with the outside surface. As air is directed upwards, it will draw air from inside the hollow along with it – which means that the building air is being drawn out of the building via the suction effect of the outer surface air – the helical feature helps in pushing the wind upwards and in so doing also draws away the air from the building. There is also an added feature of a wind turbine fixed to the top of the helical tower which will help in tapping of wind power – which can be stored for later use by the household. In this system, you would have noticed that we prioritised the ventilation to flow from the top of the building. It then flows downward to the floor and is discharged outwards through an under floor channel. From there the polluted air will then be drawn outwards to the helical tower. This feature should be adopted for new buildings as it is a green feature that help reduces our carbon foot print.
The use of naturally assisted air ventilation will go a long way to help us wean off our dependance on air conditioning and the likes. As air conditioning takes a big chunk of our energy bills, and as a way to implement greener strategies, we should implement green building strategies in our lifestyles. Wind energy is free and so we will be better of if we were to think of more ways to utilize it. As it is, we are only concentrating on using wind turbines to generate electricity - that is because we are thinking about a big amount of free electricity. However, there are also occasions where we only need a small amount of energy to power small devices and in this case we are talking about pushing a small amount of air out of our homes - which we have used a simple system like that of a twisting tower to draw air out of our home. This system also allows us not to use our air conditioners all the time - when there is strong outside wind blowing, we should try to make full use of it. Consider also when there is nobody at home - you will close all the windows to prevent intrusions. Now if you have this system running, then you would not have to open your windows (as in contrast to what CDC says) as it will work to bring in fresh air through the attic (or any other convenient points) place and draws air out of the home through the floor level (or extraction openings placed near the walls) - you will come home to enjoy fresh air instead of stale humid air and at a 24/7 basis. Help save fossil energy and help the world to run on a low carbon footprint. It is also important to note that we should have air flowing from the top to the bottom as the illustrated example above showed - we have to ditch all those principles dictated by the authorities because we now have covid-19 and for the long term basis.
Another issue is that the wind does not blow all the time so how do you manage ventilation when there is very little wind? Fortunately enough, we do have a mini wind turbine to help us save energy for those moments that the wind does not blow - also when the sun does not shine taking into consideration that we also have solar panels. Thus it is also essential that we incorporate an accumulator system in the form of batteries - to save cost and save us from getting headaches. How nice would it be if we were to enjoy free energy to help us be more comfortable and we can really get to enjoy life with this form of ventilation - and you don't have to worry wheter you have forgotten to switch off. There is also a control switch to manually control the air inlet point and we can have it connected to us via wireless just in case we want to know about the room temperature while we are outside.
We are now in the midst of a new era; the era where we have to live with deadly pathogens that float in the air that we breathe. It’s certainly a very dangerous time for you will never be sure that you will stay healthy the next day because of bad environments. It’s also the best time to go and build a new home, a home that is appropriate for us to live in safety, a home that allows us to play our part in safe guarding the environment from being overwhelmed by the formation of excess of carbon dioxide. Indeed if it were ever possible, it would serve the world to be a better place if only we can live by using less of fossil fuel. Today, we are using thirty per cent of our energy to either cool or heat our buildings and homes – that is definitely not sustainable if we were to depend on using fossil fuel. But fortunately for us we have renewables to help us to wean off the use of fossils and we continue to explore new forms of generating electricity. However, in order to not tip over the table top, we will need to go even further, like the way we construct our homes. The method of house construction is regrettable to say is already obsolete because we now have methods of construction by just printing it out in modular forms making it easy and fast to construct a home – a home that is passive in terms of the use of energy – green in every possible way. A green perspective will drive the bad guys away including those mutating virus that is coming our way!
Green Building with water generation solar roof tile
Solar tile integrated with water generation module
Solar Tiles that also generates water!
This is the next generation of solar tiles with the capability of generating electricity and water. However it is not designed to generate a lot of electricity as it is used to run the atmospheric water generator (awg). The AWG is also not designed to generate a lot of water - it will individually capture a small amount of water from the atmosphere, just sufficient for emergency use. But if you were to combine all the solar tiles's collection of water, then it could easily catch for you ten gallons of water, given that there is enough sunshine to run the solar tiles. However, this concept of a roof tile capturing water can be scaled up to meet commercial demands by expanding the solar tiles (with awg capabilities) on the ground or even from up a high mast. Thus the solar tile with awg will be the best answer for the time that we will experience heat strokes - this concept can also be installed in arid regions and farmlands that are short of water. It is also suitable for remote settlements where water and electricity is not constantly available. It is also the green answer when you are talking about water eneration. There is also a water capture from the rain by the use of rain gutters and an underground reservoir.
What is an intelligent air conditioner?
The Intelligent Air Conditioner is designed to manage a more efficient use of energy for cooling purposes. Air conditioners as we know of it are designed to cool a room space – the power of the air conditioner is calculated to cool the 'whole space'and thus wasting energy. However, it is a design that has outlived its purpose because we are now more concerned about saving energy so that we can avert melting of the Antarctic and global flooding. Furthermore, it is forecasted that society will have to depend more on air conditioners for cooling because the earth is getting warmer – the IEA has projected air conditioning will use about 13% of all electricity worldwide and help produce 2 billion tonnes of CO2 a year. We therefor need to redesign our air conditioners and this is done with the intelligent air conditioner which is designed to only cool the place where there is occupant – it is spot cooling where air is directed to the space that needs cooling and will not direct it's air to the ceilings and nooks and corners that needs no cooling. It does this via an assembly of smart nozzles which is able to detect heat map and tweaks its nozzle to direct air towards the target – it also passively track the heat map and work on it until there is no more heat where it will automatically switch to on standby. This is the way air conditioners work for a greener world and it will also integrate with the ventilation system as espoused by us. Together it will help save us from the spread of diseases - as well as save us on energy bill.
You may want to learn more about Intelligent Air Conditioning
Double Stage Heat Capture Air Conditioning
Welcome to the new standard of efficient air conditioning – double stage heat capture air conditioning system. As we move towards a warmer climate because of climatic changes, we will need to explore a more efficient way of running our air conditioners – since there will be more people depending on air conditioners to keep their cool. Air conditioners as a means to cool the air are not a very efficient way to use energy as the system was designed a few decades ago when we were not concerned with global warming. Although air conditioning do use new gases as a medium to transfer heat, it however is taking too much of our energy source to perform its task which will give rise to the need to look for alternative way to cool our air. One of the ways is to see how the air flows in a given space – it would be evident that there is actually a lot of waste – you have a surfeit of cool air circulating in a room without actually cooling the intended target.
For that we have proposed a new system to be put in place, without having to resort to new technical capability. As shown below, we have a system called ‘double stage heat capture’ where as the cooled air passes the intended target, it is brought to pass through another stage of heat capture before it is routed to the actual compression stage. This second stage may use the existing gas compression circuit or it may use a different circuit powered by an electronic cooling system. Having this additional heat will bring about an additional twenty five per cent increase in efficiency. However for this system to work, the cooling system has got to be integrated with floor level ventilating system where stale room air is extracted out of the system – this in contrast to the conventional air cooling system where stale air is not being ducted out to prevent leakage. Now, cooling air when passing by the intended target gets heated up to a certain degree – and it is this partially heated air (as the target gives off heat)that is ducted into a chamber where its heat is extracted to be recycled back into the system. All for a greener world!
Fuel-Saving Double Stage Heat Capture Air Conditioning System
The consequences of global warming on humankind
Global warming has serious implications for human life, including us facing more infectious diseases. Just how does a warmer world affect the environment? One of the many examples is that people tend to gather around places that are cooler, for example at shopping complexes that are air conditioned – they go to buy and while away their time at shopping malls instead of going to their neighbourhood convenience stalls. The result is that there will be more pathogens being spread in those spaces just like how covid is transmitted through the air of those closed spaces as there are normally no ventilation of any sort to speak off. And what about the homes and offices that also offer us air condition? Well, you do get more people being exposed to unhealthy air – which results in more people getting sick. At the end of it we will need to take a look at how to change the environment by redesigning the buildings that we spent three quarters of our time in unnecessarily burning away fuel. Besides air conditioning we will need to look at how we design our roofs, building structures and their usage of energy.
New Green Building for the survival of mankind
* Modular Building from top to the bottom
Modular buildings – in the era of 3D printing, we will need to redesign the way we construct our buildings. As building construction takes a long time and a lot of planning, we will have to redesign the way we go about building our homes. We did use modular forms but only in the standing structures but we also need to look at others like the roofs and underground structures. For the roof, we now have solar tiles and wind turbines – putting them up was just an afterthought. It would be better if we also design the solar panels from the start. So do the other parts like under-floor ventilation channel and ventilated walls – they should be designed from the start. Then there are spaces underground that we have not been using for all this while – underground heat capture and water storage comes to mind.
Modular House Parts
* Integrated roof with solar and heat capture - build as single piece modular structure.
Transparent solar tile
Roof fitted with solar panels is common but roofs designed with solar/heat capture is yet to enter the market. We are now suggesting that we design the roofs to incorporate solar and heat capture all in one piece – and in modular form so that it can be fitted up by robots. It will save time in construction and save cost as well – with easy maintenance to boot. We would also be suggesting the incorporation of mini wind turbines so we will need to strengthen the roof structure to also incorporate other energy captures that are coming in the future. To be even better we should also look into the incorporation of IoT into the structures so that we can monitor and command it from a remote area – or from a central processor to bring forth intelligent control.
* Integrated walls with solar and heat capture - build as single piece modular structure.
Ventilated Walls – redesigned modular form to incorporate inner layer cooling/heating. Walls have been neglected for as long as we remembered but we should take a look at it again – they should be designed with the capability to insulate us from the outside heat or insulate us from losing our heat during winter times. Not forgetting that it also forms a large area where we could have put up some form of solar capture to either generate electricity or warmth.
* Integrated air conditioning and ventilation - integrated intelligent system to reduce fuel usage.
Room Air Conditioning
Room air conditioning should be redesigned with an intelligent mode to cut down on our use of energy. Air conditioning takes about twenty per cent of our utility bill and with the world getting warmer; it would be a difficult task to reduce our use of conditioned air as we become more reliant on it to give us comfort. An intelligent air conditioning system as espoused by Patentagentip is the next best thing to do as we have not changed our system from the beginning of the introduction of air conditioning. Basically, the intelligent air condoning system is focused on the way we direct the conditioned air to the target – our system is able to operate intelligently to refocus air to its intended target even as the target were to move around – this is to save at least 30% on fuel.
* External solar panels mounted from up a high pole - in case you do not want solar panels on your roof.
House with Solar Tower
Solar Towers – designed to capture solar power from the top of a high pole in circumstances where you would not want to mount them on top of your roof or where you have no roof space to spare. Solar Towers have inbuilt motors placed at the base of its pole to raise or lowering of its solar panels for maintenance purposes. It is also mounted high up from the ground so that it could not be easily stolen. It is also strategically designed to save you ground space – you could put them up in your orchards and estates without the need to cutting down of crops.
* Integrated geothermal heat capture for cooling and heating - to save fuel.
Geothermal heat capture for cooling and heating
Geothermal heating/cooling is the next best thing to do if you are talking about how you would want to play your part to save the world from being burnt out. Geothermal heat is there for the taking from where you site your house and the only thing for you not to think about it is because you have that luxury of not embracing it because you can afford it – until now when you are looking at ways to cut your utility bills. Geothermal heating should also incorporate water conservation with an inbuilt underground reservoir which is a smart idea to store water during emergency times – it is also a way to help the utilities to expand on their water reservoir. You can also think about capturing rain water for non-drinking uses as there should not be wasting away rain water during raining season. These systems are however best designed from the start to save cost.
* Integrated water capture from the air system to reduce the dependance on utilities.
Water Harvesting from atmosphere
Water Capture – through water towers that use the electric power (self-generated) to induce water condensation. It is a must to have if you are living in a dry area as it would guarantee you safe drinking water on tap anytime of the day – it angst you dearly when you woke up and find your tap running dry because the utilities were doing repair work. Water Towers are designed with modern materials to bring you efficiency in capturing atmospheric water and they could also help you to build your water farm - you could then sell water in areas that constantly experience water shortage. Also recomended for remote farms where river or ground water is not easily available.
* Wastewater Recycling
Grey Water Recycling
Recycling of grey water - an essential part of not wasting fast becoming rare resources. The recyling is best done over a roof with a system that uses solar heating to evaporate the grey filtered water. Water vapour is then made to condense on spherical dome - however this method will require a spare space on top of the roof - it can also be constructed over a yard. An alternative way is to construct a condensing unit under the ground - with heating power coming from solar thermal.
You may also want to view the ways we retrofit the furnitures to help avert catching covid-19 here