Advanced supply of fresh, cooled or warmed air, locally and specifically, as and when they want it, to individual people of the 21st century

“Individuals” is a principle of climatic regulation based on a concept of local and specific fresh air supply directly to an individual person and controllable by an individual person. In a car or in an airplane one is used to this kind of local control over one’s own local climate. So why not in buildings?

It is of course irrefutable that among all the 6 billion people in the world there are many who could be called “average”. It is irrefutable that human body temperature is the same throughout the world, and that people do not like draughts, do not like to sit in the cold, or in too high temperatures, or in strange smells, or in noisy environments, etcetera.

However, this is not the same as some engineers or professors defining average climatic conditions in which the average person will be comfortable.

Even the average person will, on some days, prefer a climate that is maybe a little warmer, perhaps if there are viruses in the air, or perhaps if one has missed a little sleep for some reason or another, or if there is sadness, or worry, or other human aspects of life “in the air”. Perhaps this same person will prefer a little more cool air, after a telephone call with a lover, or with a bank, or when one is inspired to work hard. Sometimes a visitor will come with a perfume that is attractive, but sometimes the opposite occurs, and a little more air is then needed. On the other hand, in times of trouble, even small air movement may be considered draughty and disturbing.

Therefore it seems incompatible with the 21st century to accept an indoor climate where noise, daylight, fresh air, temperature, are all controlled by some centralized system or computer that has decided that you are an average person, the same average person as yesterday.

Of course, in The Hermitage generalized climatic conditions is an even more absurd thought, and an even greater challenge, because visitor numbers and types vary considerably, and the museum artifacts also have variable requirements according to type, often different than the requirements of the people. So there is a very real need to be geographically specific about temperature, light, noise, humidity, air-pollutants etc, and if this is solved the resulting quality, the impression obtained by visitors, will be high.

General modern ventilation of the indoor environment is established by dilution of pollutants and general supply and extraction of air in order to maintain a generally acceptable atmospheric air quality and a comfortable thermal environment. Atmospheric pollution to the indoor air includes bio-effluents, particles and volatile organic compounds (VOC), carbon dioxide etc., released by people, processes and degasification of materials, while thermal pollution on the other hand, comprises heat and moisture loads released from the already mentioned sources together with solar gain.

By applying the “Texas” principle and many of the other features described in this “Hermitage Climatic Regulation Method” the need for this specific “Individual” fresh air supply, or even for general ventilation, is significantly reduced—there is, for example, no pollution to dilute. If the general temperature is adequately stabilized by “Matisse” and “Palladio” then what is the remaining requirement for the climatic regulation system?

In buildings with large air spaces for each person there is practically no physical, or scientific, need, but I would suggest there is always a psychological need for people to feel in control of their own micro-climate. And therefore this principle called “Individual” fresh air supply is important.

As an image of the principle one can use pictures of women with fans. Simply by fanning their faces they produce a cooling sensation, often adequate, and most importantly, totally under the individual control of the person concerned. A simple device which just accelerates ordinary room air—no change in temperature is involved—but the increased air flow over the face increases evaporation and produces cooling.

Imagine these fans attached to small pipes which press cool air into the fan, so that if you choose to fan yourself, you can both control the amount of air as well as its temperature. You can achieve an effect that is invigorating, or an effect that is relaxing. The “fan” can be of any type of design, a high technology invention, or simple copies of Japanese designs, or anything in between. Again, design possibilities are endless.

The technology of supplying cool air is well known: for example, small compressed air equipment is easily available, and is even designed for supplying divers, and other people carrying out work with dangerous gasses, with fresh air to their masks. It is very simple, an existing technology, used in cars and airplanes, and yet not really used in buildings.

Well, we actually hardly need it in buildings, but if the need should arise, it is a considerably more economical and effective method than the current systems provided by the air-conditioning industry. In fact, when Willis Carrier invented modern air-conditioning in 1922 he would probably have laughed if he had been told that the industry had not really moved on during the next 80 years. As an inventor he might have expected real progress, not just economic growth.

In the Winter Palace “Individual” ventilation may seem to be an inappropriate task, and of course each visitor cannot possibly be provided with it, but it is certainly possible to provide a small terminal adjacent to the many resting places, because Rastrelli's ingeniousness gives us the possibility.

The Winter Palace has approximately 800 unused shafts built into the walls. The difficult task is finding and reopening these shafts, but our project of the past 8 years has just about solved this problem, and the remaining task of supplying a small pipe with cool or warm air down these shafts is no task at all.

An additional benefit is that the custodians in each room will be provided with the extra benefit of additional comfort—both winter and summer—by the provision of individual ventilation adjacent to their chairs.

A new Russian “air-bath”, completely controllable by the individual person, a service from the museum to the guests, to the custodians. Modern, suitable for the 21st century, in harmony with the 18th century Winter Palace owing to the foresight of Rastrelli.

Suitable fresh air supply can be established by various methods, and maximum air quality and comfort is achieved when the individual occupants are breathing clean and acceptable air and are in thermal equilibrium with the surroundings and without local nuisance on any part of the body from hot or cold surfaces.

This is, as previously described, normally established in modern buildings by a number of methods that usually involve controlling air quality and thermal environment in the entire occupation zone of the indoor environment. However, it is possible and more efficient to control the parameters locally in the near proximity of the occupant by applying clean and temperate air direct to the occupant’s respiration zone.

The system is based on the injection of fresh air by an adjustable nozzle or fan directly into the individual respiration zone around the torso. The air current is adjustable in direction, volume and temperature. The system is well known from the automotive and air transport sector where it has been successfully used for decades.

With regard to the thermal environment, the possibility of individual control of an air current close to the occupant’s torso offers a unique possibility of controlling thermal comfort.

Extensive research confirms that local air velocities around the torso are perceived as comfortable in situations where the indoor environment otherwise would have been perceived as uncomfortably warm.

Hence local personal ventilation, here called “Individual”, offers an excellent and more energy efficient alternative to traditional ventilation and cooling of the entire occupied zone.

Furthermore it complies with one of the most basic doctrines of good practice in indoor environment and environmental engineering—maximise individual control and minimise energy consumption.

Sergio Fox & Peter