Considering that urban population increases by the minute, each new building or a construction adds to the levels of toxins and contaminants released in the atmosphere. Researchers from Concordia University claim they found a revolutionary answer to the problem of urban pollution.
Ted Stathopoulos and Bodhisatta Hajra examined the course of movement and quantity of gases that get released from a building and carried away by the wind. The results of their study allow adaptation of the existing rules and standards for building ventilation that were set more than a decade ago by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
In a study published in the journal ‘Building and Environment’, the researchers present their methodology to test atmospheric dispersion on contaminants under different settings. They created a model that took into account variations in size and shape of building designs. These models were then placed downwind of buildings that emit pollutants in order to follow the direction in which these toxins get transferred. This allowed them to measure the quantities and exact location on buildings, where the elements get absorbed.
Stathopoulos and Hajra concluded that the main factors controlling the process of spreading of pollutants are height and spacing between buildings. The team then established three specific guidelines for architects and engineers to consider when presenting their plans. In order to minimize the amount of air pollution, intake vents on buildings located downwind of a polluter should be placed upwind and closer to its more sheltered wall. In addition, an air intake should be positioned on the rooftop of a building only if the building is upwind of a low stack. Needless to say, the last rule is to allow sufficient spacing between buildings, so that the transfer of pollutants between the two is reduced.
Although their research will not reduce the amount of pollutants in urban environments, the researchers state that the least they can do is contribute towards limiting the re-circulation of dirty air.
For their findings, Stathopoulos was awarded the prestigious Davenport Medal by the International Association for Wind Engineering in September 2012, while Hajra received his doctorate during Concordia’s fall convocation on October 30.