Interior design an important facet of architectural design and one of the most important aspects of designing commercial and residential buildings. Interior design considers not only the aesthetics of the space but also the functionality and sustainability of the space. Sustainability can refer to the energy efficiency and the materials used in the construction. Energy efficiency can be achieved by making increased use of natural lighting and ventilation for the airflow and lighting of the space as opposed to creating the conditions using artificial lighting and ventilation which consumes energy. Since these two aspects comprise a major part of a building’s energy consumption, increased use of natural lighting and ventilation allows a building to use much less energy, which saves money in the long term. The exact design depends on the climate in the area as certain climates do not allow for more open spaces whereas others do. This article describes several methods of incorporating natural lighting and ventilation in indoor spaces and why it is worth considering.
It is difficult to rely on natural lighting completely as sunlight is always not available and can change depending on the season and weather. Therefore, it is generally not possible to completely eliminate the energy usage due to the lighting requirement. Natural light entering a building can be enhanced using design elements such as taller windows, courtyards, glass doors and openings as well as skylight installations. The use of courtyards and verandas significantly alter the layout of the building whereas the others can safely be substitutes for existing design patterns. The use of natural lighting has several advantages, the most basic being the energy efficiency, along with the natural warmth and psychological effects associated with natural sunlight such as biological clock syncing and emotional responses associated with sunlight.
Natural ventilation relies on the wind and air pressure to provide fresh air and circulate the existing air inside the building. This is generally easier to achieve, and artificial ventilation can be almost entirely eliminated in most cases. The design decisions for natural ventilation are similar to those of natural lighting but also include more streamlined designs and consideration towards the air flow path by adjusting the layout of the building. Artificial ventilation makes use of fans and air conditioning systems, the latter of which consumes a substantial amount of energy, even for a small home. Ventilation should also consider the temperature of the space, which means that the space should be insulating to retain heat without requiring artificial cooling but have the ability to allow wind in when cooling is required.
The reliability of natural ventilation decreases as the building gets larger and the number of occupants increases, with air conditioning becoming almost a necessity in commercial spaces housing larger populations, as the carbon dioxide in the air should be kept at a safe concentration. However, for smaller spaces, it is possible to eliminate the additional building cost and operational cost associated with artificial ventilation by designing indoor spaces attuned to make use of natural wind.