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Windows on the world of ventilation

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Forgive me for thinking that I'm missing something, but did not Dr Birkbeck, speaking in the House of Commons c.1840 (in his surmise on providing proper ventilation into dwellings) state that doors are for admitting people, windows are for letting in light and that other means should be employed for ventilation? In plain speaking, Dr Birkbeck clearly stated that after much research it has been found that windows are wholly unsuitable for providing safe and controlled means of ventilation.

Adrian Leaman's article (aj 4.3.99) makes, in my opinion, the erroneous premise that people want to control their environment by constantly opening or closing windows. I would like to see the evidence that unequivocally supports such an assertion, given that Leaman's article itself highlights the dichotomy whereby one person's action to open or close a window would upset the apparent comfort of others in the same environment, notwithstanding security problems, sound intrusion and the other defects noted in his article.

People's comfort is important, and such a comfort zone is as indicated within the constraints of the comfort envelope of a psychometric chart. The variable nature of an open window cannot provide constancy of comfort. Furthermore, evidence exists to demonstrate that the replenishment of air, via an open window, is neither necessary or, for that matter, desired, as full control cannot be achieved. Therefore designing windows for ventilation is irrational as well as impractical.

As I understand it, termites in the Western deserts of Australia can control their environment to within a few percentage degrees. As we approach the third millennium, surely is it not beyond the wit of man to devise a means of providing safe, controlled and adequate natural (non-mechanical) ventilation without the obvious inadequacies of windows.

Peter Semenenko

By email

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