Indoor air quality, thermal comfort and damages assessment of four buildings in Athens
Abstract: Nowadays individuals spend more than 85% of their total time in indoor environments, mainly at home and work. Thereby, the quality of the indoor environment plays a substantial role in human health and wellness. The four basic factors that define the perception of the indoor environment, through the senses, are the thermal comfort, the indoor air quality, the acoustical quality and the visual or lighting quality. A standard level of the above factors is ensured by the building envelope and the services systems. At the same time, the bearing structure provides the necessary resistance and durability to the construction in order to sustain the various loads without breaking down. Inevitably, over the years, all structures’ robustness declines and their functionality state degrades. For that reason, intensive provision should be given to assure the users’ safety and well-being. The objective of this study is to assess the current indoor air quality, the thermal comfort and the damages at four publicly owned buildings located in Athens, Greece. The evaluation was done through the facilities management contribution, a questionnaire survey and a technical visit – inspection where measurements were taken. Special focus was also put on the Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) and its effects. The results indicated that at 3 out of 4 buildings mainly suffer from unpleasant odors and lack of fresh air intake. Therefore, the installation of mechanical ventilation systems (air handling units, outdoor air processing units) combined with an effective air distribution system (confluent jet ventilation system) is suggested. Substantial building damages were detected at the cultural center (floorings, door/window openings, fungi) and specific proposals for restoration are made. Despite the existence of indicators of an unhealthy indoor environment, a direct correlation between the exposure to various pollutants and the SBS symptoms, cannot be established. The optimization of the research methodologies and the institution of new building design protocols is essential in order to overcome the SBS effects. On the whole, the questionnaire achieved to fulfil the objectives of the survey. It was comprehensible by the respondents while the outcome of the questionnaire and the inspection were consistent to each other. The questionnaire and the checklists are practical tools that could be used as a guide for future investigation in similar fields. Except for technical surveys and questionnaires, many suggestions for future maintenance of the buildings are provided aiming to retain their functionality. These proposals concern the services systems, the building envelope as well as the bearing structure of the buildings.
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