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Elements of Intelligent Design - Programming



Interior layout has a profound influence on the effectiveness of any and all attempts to create a functioning, passively designed home. Without proper programming, interior occupied spaces will lack sufficient ventilation and the occupants will suffer from excessive heat and humidity buildup. The important factors in designing the interior are:

Thermal Considerations

Locations of rooms with respect to their thermal characteristics and requirements can reduce energy consumption. Spaces which require little heating/cooling or light (closets, storage, garages, laundry rooms, mechanical chases, stairways, elevators, etc.) can be placed on the east, west sides to act as buffer spaces to minimize east/west solar gains.

Rooms with high process heat gain (such as rooms with computers) or high latent heat gain (such as laundry rooms) should be placed near the building's ventilative outlets or be separately ventilated in order to minimize heat gain to the rest of the building. They should also be separated from other ventilated spaces by insulated walls.

Rooms may also be zoned so that activities can take place in cooler areas during warm periods and warmer areas during cool periods of the day or season.


Ventilative Considerations

Partitions and interior walls usually lower interior velocities and change airflow distributions by diverting the air from its most direct path from the inlet to the outlet. The closer the interior wall is to the inlet, the more abrupt the change in the airflow pattern and more of the air's velocity is dissipated. To maintain higher interior velocities for natural ventilation, interior walls perpendicular to the flow should be placed close to the outlet.

Placement of walls or partitions can affect airflow beneficially. Walls can be situated to split airflow and improve circulation creating better overall room air distribution in rooms with poor exterior orientation.

Naturally ventilated buildings should be single-loaded for easier cross ventilation. Corridors can be either on the upwind or downwind side, and may serve a dual function as shading devices if placed on the south, southeast, or southwest side of an elongated building. Odor-producing spaces such as toilets and kitchens, and noise producing spaces such as laundry rooms, should be placed on the downwind side of the living space.


Mechanical Systems Integration

The connections between zones must be carefully detailed so that no zone creates a negative impact on another zone. Naturally ventilated portions of the building should be able to be separated from mechanically cooled portions by adequately insulated partitions. During seasonal periods when natural ventilation is inadequate for maintaining comfort, the efficiency of the HVAC system should not be compromised by poor design such as inadequate insulation, air leaks, lack of shade, etc.