The Great Indoors — or Not

Jan 9, 2022DMA Engineering, Steven Forrester - Principal

Indoor noise is one of those things that in the moment, can be infuriating but is seldom spoken of. Yet, the impact on inhabitants is large, unpleasant, and far-reaching.

Have you ever been excited to go to an event and hear a coveted speaker share their insights?
Me, too. Well, what about when the lighting, the seating, food, and creature comforts are all perfect but —you can’t hear a darn thing? This happened to me recently and left me scratching my head.

From the start, the event looked perfect and I could hear the speaker. Until…the HVAC kicked on to accommodate the number of attendees at the session. Suddenly, I could no longer hear a word. How did this happen? Lack of building foresight. In an attempt to complete the building, minimum viable solutions were used in order to keep costs low and without thinking about the future lifeblood of the building.

The space had a polished concrete floor, with no obvious floor tubing to maintain a slab temperature to heats and cools the space.  Yes, I say cooling. There should be chilled water in the slab to maintain a slab temperature.  People entering in a space bring outside air in with them, this causes the conditioned air to leave as they enter, whereas a conditioned slab stays at the desired temperature.

The floor can also be programmed to react to the number of attendees that can be precooled for peak load.  Indoor air quality can be addressed with a dedicated outside air system, and additional heating or cooling supplied by chilled beams.   This results in a space that holds a more uniform temperature with people coming and going, provides just the right amount of outside air flow for proper indoor air quality, a space that doesn’t have huge temperature swings as guest arrive and leave, and the heating and cooling system becomes innocuous to the overall function of the space. Bottom line, we would all be able to hear the speaker, it would be comfortable, and the time we took out of our busy lives to attend the event would be more valuable.

It is our belief that buildings are long-term members of our society. When effort is taken to design and build a structure, comfort needs to be built-in. To use poor materials to save money, not leverage basic engineering improvements, and not think about the environmental impact of a building is an unconscious solution. The minimum viable product does not work to benefit carbon. Buildings need to stand the test of time in a responsible way.

At DMA, we want to dig into these solutions and create high quality, pleasant, sustainable solutions for our environment. Let’s talk about why minimum viable product is a bad solution for: the earth, the building owner, and the inhabitants.