In summer and spring climates in tropical countries, people look for solutions on how to alleviate heat all the time. After all, high temperatures become uncomfortable and, in some cases, unhealthy. This compromises people’s health, well-being, and productivity.
Fortunately, there are several strategies to reduce the effect of high temperatures on buildings and, thus, improve the thermal comfort of their users. Want to know more? Read on!
Effects of excess heat and why should we reduce it?
Anyone who has lived the past few decades must have noticed that the temperature in cities gets higher and higher, this is not just an impression, really some climatic phenomena acted to make the climate even hotter, such as soil sealing and heat islands.
Heat islands occur when cities begin to lose their green spaces, which are important thermal regulators. In addition to preventing the direct incidence of sunlight, which heats the soil, trees have physiological processes capable of mitigating heat.
Perspiration brings cooled vapors from the deepest layers of the soil to the surface, reducing local temperature. Photosynthesis takes part of the heat energy and transforms it into chemical energy.
Added to this is the waterproofing of the soil with asphalt materials, which reflect a large part of the solar radiation back into the environment. The natural soil, in turn, absorbs much of that energy and uses it to control humidity. As a result, heat energy dissipates in other processes instead of heating the environment.
All of this means that cities have a very high average temperature compared to their surroundings. This hampers air circulation, causing the famous heat islands. Therefore, as plants are eliminated from cities, the trend is that the temperature will only increase.
However, the correction of these problems is up to the public authorities – which can be very slow. So, it is essential that you invest in strategies within your buildings, such as the insertion of green areas, the installation of efficient thermoacoustic insulators, among others.
All of this has a very large economic impact since excess heat has negative effects on several areas of life and human activity. We’ll talk more about that next!
Impairment of health
Our organism needs a very efficient thermal regulation since all the processes only occur efficiently in a narrow range of internal temperature – between 35º and 37º. Other than that, he interprets that we are at risk and will take steps to regulate the temperature.
For this, we have several internal “thermometers” to analyze the temperature of the medium. They are generally stable when the environment is between 20º and 28º. Thus, all of our normal physiological processes are able to maintain the internal temperature. However, outside of that range, they send a message to our brain that there is an imminent risk.
Then, several responses begin to be activated to keep the internal temperature stable. In the cold, the most common reactions are chills. In excess of heat, blood vessels in the skin dilate, sweat, restlessness, and accelerated breathing rhythm. These are our body’s attempts to dissipate energy.
So, when a person becomes more agitated and deconcentrated due to the heat, it is not something that he can rationally control. Several hormonal and neural events are affecting your cognition.
In more severe cases, excess heat can cause severe dehydration and hyperthermia. These situations are extremely dangerous for the elderly, children, and sick people, and can lead to death. For this reason, hospitals, schools, daycare centers, and nursing homes need to have very strict environmental temperature control.
In the work environment, there are equally negative effects. According to the MSD Handbook for Health Care Professionals, problems caused by heat have generated a high rate of illness in the young and adult population in the United States, such as muscle and neurological disorders.
A very common problem is heat fatigue, which occurs after doing heavy work in a hot environment. As a result, employees may show signs of exhaustion, accelerated heart rate, wheezing, and dizziness.
Therefore, what we have noticed today is an increase in absenteeism due to pathologies related to heat. Thus, investing in thermal regulation becomes an important measure to reduce costs with time away from work.
However, the most common situation generated by heat is discomfort. As we explained, the physiological processes are uncontrollable by the person and they demand that he take measures to regulate the temperature. Thus, there is a feeling of discomfort of being in that environment.
Sweat impregnates the skin and clothes, making it necessary to fan or use fans to make it evaporate. Rapid breathing generates a feeling of anxiety for open space. Anyway, our whole body invites us to leave the place. Consequently, our rational mind associates negative values with that experience.
Thus, a company that does not maintain good temperature control has a high risk of employee dissatisfaction. Thus, even if the salary is good, they can consider the environment unhealthy and look for another employer. Thus, your company may lose its best talent.
Furthermore, all of these compromises your relationship with the customer. Immersed in negative feelings and a sense of urgency to leave the place, the chances of him closing a deal are minimal, even though the conditions are good. Therefore, you need to think about the customer experience holistically, including environmental conditions.
Human productivity is closely linked to the executive functions of our cognition, such as:
- focus: ability to ignore external and internal stimuli;
- attention: the ability to understand the smallest details of a task;
- intelligence: the ability to associate and interpret data to produce new information;
- problem-solving and planning: ability to recognize the resources available to solve challenges;
- working memory: the ability to retain information in the short term for use in tasks, among others.
Faced with the heat stimulus, our brain hijacks much of the energy available for tasks and directs it to the temperature regulation centers. After all, he is interpreting that our survival is at risk. So the consequences for productivity are huge:
- less attention causes more errors and increases the need for rework;
- lack of focus and reduced working memory increase a task’s execution time;
- the temporary reduction of intelligence and planning generates mediocre results.
So, thermal comfort is not just a matter of making employees more satisfied. It directly has an impact on efficiency.
Reduced equipment life
In addition to harming human labor, excess heat is extremely damaging to equipment – especially electronics. So, if you keep computers, servers or machines with computer control, you need to control the temperature in order to increase their useful lives.
After all, this equipment works with very sensitive electrical circuits and processors that generate a lot of heat. When they reach certain temperatures, the part literally burns and loses all its functionality.
How to mitigate the heat of buildings without air conditioning?
Most of the time, it is possible to maintain room temperatures at healthy levels without the use of air conditioning equipment. For this, it is necessary to increase the thermal efficiency of the construction with architectural techniques, the use of suitable materials, and thermal insulators.
This brings a lot of savings in the long run, even if the initial investment is higher. After all, air conditioning is the main villain of electricity consumption in all companies.
Create indoor and outdoor green areas
Nowadays, green architecture has gained a lot of space. As explained above, plants and soil have processes that help regulate room temperature. With current techniques, it is possible to create green areas even on floors without contact with the ground.
So, when you implement internal gardens, you can reduce the internal heat by a few tenths. Another interesting measure is the use of external beds with trees with larger crowns. In addition to the above benefits, they act as a physical barrier to the incidence of sunlight on the building.
Use a lighter decoration
Dark colors have a greater capacity for absorbing solar radiation. As a result, these objects heat up more easily and cause the room temperature to rise. The clear ones reflect heat waves and return part of them to the external environment.
Thus, the ideal is that the facades, industrial roofs, and walls are all painted in light colors, preferably white.
Improve room ventilation
One of the processes related to heat transmission is convection. From there, the warmer air becomes lighter and is directed upwards. In turn, the colder – denser air – descends towards the floor. This ensures the comfort of those at workstations.
However, when there is not adequate ventilation, there is no flow of hot air out of the environment and the temperature gets higher and higher. Therefore, the environment must be well dimensioned in this sense.
The windows must always be taller to take advantage of the natural movement of the heated air. In industries and businesses, ceiling fans may also be required.
However, in this case, the roof must receive a good insulation system to prevent the sun’s radiation from constantly heating the highest air, preventing the convection from being used for the benefit of thermal comfort. Thus, she ends up also becoming a villain.
Furthermore, the individual feeling of warmth is not only linked to the temperature itself, but also to ventilation. Air circulation allows sweat to evaporate and reduces body temperature.
Invest in thermal insulation
Finally, we must mention one of the most efficient measures for thermal comfort in interior design – thermal insulation. These materials are able to act on the heat energy transmission processes and prevent them from heating the construction.
The great advantage is that it does not only act on excess heat but maintains pleasant temperatures regardless of the climate. You can choose from the different forms of insulation available in the market such as Glass Wool, Rock Wool, Styrofoam, Polyurethane Foams, Foils, etc.
Vikas Rastogi holds the position of managing partner at VK Brothers. Keeping up with the current trends in marketing, he thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age. His interest and creative approach to marketing bring him to the industry.