Uncovering the Hidden Health Risks of Industrial Buildings: Is Your Environment Harming Your Well-being?
Industrial buildings are commonly designed with a focus on production efficiency and cost-effectiveness, but often neglect the impact of the built environment on human health. We build these large spaces out of concrete and steel in the middle of open paddocks, with poor crossflow or passive forms of ventilation and radiant heat producing machinery and we wonder why our people get sick?
Heat stress, in all its forms, can lead to a range of negative consequences, from reduced productivity and increased absenteeism to long-term health problems among workers. In this blog, we will examine why industrial buildings are not typically designed for human health, with a focus on factors such as radiant heat build-up from machinery, poor insulation, and lack of crossflow or passive ventilation. We will also explore potential strategies for improving building performance in industrial settings.
Radiant Heat Build-Up from Machinery
One common issue in industrial buildings is the build-up of radiant heat from machinery. This can create uncomfortable working conditions and may even lead to heat stress, which can be dangerous for workers. To address this issue, building designers should prioritize measures such as increased ventilation, insulation, and shading. This can include installing fans or ventilation systems that can effectively circulate air throughout the building, as well as incorporating reflective materials or shade structures to reduce the amount of direct sunlight that enters the building.
Another common issue in industrial buildings is poor insulation, which can lead to large temperature fluctuations and high energy costs. When buildings are not properly insulated, heat can escape during the winter and enter during the summer, making it difficult to maintain a comfortable working environment. One solution to this problem is to invest in high-quality insulation materials, such as spray foam or fiberglass. Additionally, incorporating insulation into the building design can help to prevent air leaks and ensure that the building is able to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the year.
Little to No Crossflow or Passive Ventilation
Finally, many industrial buildings are designed with little to no crossflow or passive ventilation, which can result in stagnant air and poor indoor air quality. This can be particularly problematic in settings where workers are exposed to hazardous substances or fumes. To address this issue, building designers should prioritize natural ventilation systems that allow for air to flow in and out of the building. This can include incorporating features such as operable windows, vents, and exhaust fans that can help to regulate air flow and improve indoor air quality.
A great example of how Industrial buildings should be built:
Drawing inspiration from the traditional tropical architecture of the region, Jakob Factory’s design has evolved to feature a permeable façade resembling a vibrant green “skin” of lush vegetation. This suspended structure is upheld by a dual-layer rope network extending from the ground to the roof. The horizontal geotextile planters serve a dual purpose by not only filtering rain and sunlight but also contributing to a reduction in atmospheric temperature through evaporation. Additionally, they function as air purifiers and trap dust particles.
The strategic layout of workspaces, combined with the green façade and adaptable interior walls, creates a comfortable working environment. This innovative approach marks a significant milestone, as the Jakob Factory becomes Vietnam’s pioneer in proposing entirely naturally ventilated manufacturing facilities.
In conclusion, industrial buildings are often not designed with human health in mind, leading to a range of negative consequences for workers. To improve building performance and address issues such as radiant heat build-up, poor insulation, and lack of crossflow or passive ventilation, building designers should prioritize measures such as increased ventilation, insulation, and shading, as well as incorporating natural ventilation systems and high-quality insulation materials into their designs. By doing so, they can help to create healthier and more comfortable working environments that are conducive to productivity and overall well-being.