A Model Classroom by Architecture CMU to Combat Heat and Air Pollution

15 February 2023

Corporate Communication and Alumni Relations Center (CCARC)

          Northern Thailand has been facing problems caused by rising temperatures and PM 2.5 from open burning. PM 2.5, is an abbreviation for Particulate Matter 2.5, and refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width. Particles in the PM 2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Aggravated by its geographical features as a basin, from February to May, Chiang Mai often ranks at the top of the AQI Ranking for unhealthy air quality due to dust, thus affecting the health and academic performance of CMU students greatly. The CMU Faculty of Architecture has come up with an idea to reduce the amount of heat and PM 2.5 that flows into a building using insights to environmental design, something called the — Dust-free Laboratory Model. This project, which aims to ensure good air quality for the student design laboratory all year round, is a collaboration between the Faculty, Energy Nakornping Co., Ltd., the CMU Energy Research and Development Institute – Nakornping (ERDI), TMB Thanachart Bank, Chiangmai Weera Wissawakarn Co., Ltd. and the CMU Faculty of Engineering.

          The chronic and ever-aggravating nature of the problem has led to the transformation of the laboratory using the knowledge in environmental design, energy-saving innovation and dust-free room innovation, comprised of a Green Wall that blocks sunlight and reduces the temperature and a large air purifier. The vertical tree wall was located in the southwest area of a three-story building. The areas with and without it were measured and compared with an air purifying system, developed by ERDI, which was installed inside the lab.

          In addition to basic air filtration combined with the air purifier system, the project has also incorporated IT technology which links the data and management inside the building to connect all rooms systematically within one database. This will create learning innovation, and allow for effective building management and energy-saving data recording that will contribute to the development of a green education building as well as a zero-waste education building following the global megatrend. The plan is to administer the Faculty of Architecture BIM Model to be used in the BIM Cloud Management as a part of the comprehensive building management controlling energy use, measuring the dust, temperature and humidity levels in real-time. It will also increase safety in accessing different areas in the building as users will scan their data upon entering.

         Assistant Professor Dr. Pandin Ounchanum, the Faculty’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and International Relations, stated that ‘The amount of dust in the lab decreased to a range of 18 – 35 ?g/m?, which is well below the healthy threshold of 50 ?g/m?, once the air purifier was activated. The installation of the Green Wall at the entrance of the architecture lab on the third and fourth floors was effective at filtering dust and decreasing the temperature within the room by more than 5 degrees Celsius, thus reducing energy use in the long term. The results of all tests, which are temperature measurements at the Green Wall area and UV-radiation measurements around the Wall compared to the area behind it, show that the temperature and heart radiation that entered the entrance and lab areas were 1 – 2 degrees lower on average. In addition to these numbers, the students were satisfied with the installation and the lab which had improved their well-being during their study.’

        Education is not the only priority of CMU but also the well-being of the students and staff, as it plays a vital role in creating a good learning balance, in line with the vision of creating environmental and energy sustainability. As an aspiring Smart City model, CMU strives to promote the use of clean, renewable energy that is friendly to health and the environment.