Thursday, March 8, 2012

Humidity BE GONE! Thanks Biomimicry!

Taking advantage of natural heating, cooling and ventilation is about as biomimetic as you can get on a design project. However, depending on your location, if humidity, temperature and wind velocity metrics do not fall within a specific range, you can kiss natural ventilation goodbye.

The Namibian Beetle (Stenocara gracilipes), found in southwest coast of Africa, utilized the microscopic bumps on its back to obtain all of the water it needs by removing ocean fog. The bumps have hydrophilic (water attracting) tips and hydrophobic (water repelling) sides that cause water droplets to materialize out of thin air on its back, then slide down channels into its awaiting mouth. Fog harvesting material is under development at MIT and can be utilized to dehumidify air before it enters a building space.
Photo: Patrick Gill

Although the Humidity levels shown below for Chicago (HOK Climate Tool) are relatively low throughout operational hours, they are above comfort levels 60% of the day. Combining humidity with temperature and wind speed further reduces the potential for natural ventilation. See image to the right from the HOK Climate Tool. Removing Humidity from the air before it is brought into the building space can increase the natural ventilation potential for 20% of the year and significantly reduce operational costs for heating and cooling. There are other Biomimetic strategies that can aid in the reduction or increase in temperature and wind speed to create the perfect conditions for natural ventilation. I will save those for a later posting.

HOK Climate Tool


  1. This is great, Colin! Such a great reference for future projects.

  2. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free.

  3. There are so many important ideas about dehumidifiers. I’ll buy a basement dehumidifier for my house because I consider it very useful.

  4. Humidity in the kitchen is not good at all. Thank you for this research.