Flowering in Frost: How to Care for Orchids in Winter

People have different motivations for growing and caring for orchids. Some like to compete in prestigious contests. Others raise orchids for profit, and still others grow them in the hopes of creating a more beautiful flower via crossbreeding. Whatever the reasons, orchid enthusiasts can agree on common issues — like ensuring these blooms survive the winter.

We offer the following tips on how to help your precious orchids make it through the colder time of year.

Ration Sunlight

As available sunlight becomes scarcer during the winter months, move your orchids to a sunnier spot. A good location to make the most of sunlight when days are shortest this season is at an east-west position. Add a grow light if the orchid is a type that needs a higher light intensity, such as the cattleya, dendrobium or vanda.

You can see if the amount of light is too much for the orchid by observing the leaves; it’s too much light if they turn yellowish-green or red. If the leaves turn dark green, it’s exposed to too little. Also, feel the leaves. If they’re warmer to the touch than the ambient air, it’s overexposed to sunlight and should be moved to a darker spot.

You can also control the amount of sunlight your orchids receive without constantly moving them by using greenhouse window shades. Using shades to limit or maximize sunlight exposure for your orchids can more easily be done with the industry leading automated versions we install.

Watch the Temperature

Common types of orchids require a temperature of between 55° and 80° F to thrive. Should the temperature average 60° to 65° F, you must resort to artificial means of raising the ambient temperature. Adjust the thermostat, or you can augment it with the use of cheaper portable heaters.  Never expose the orchids to higher temperatures by placing them near fireplaces or heating vents. The heat needed by orchids must be humid, not dry.

Water them Right

Regardless of the weather or season, it’s common practice to water orchids early in the day, so they dry out by evening. To prevent your orchids suffering from cold burn, water your orchids less often in the winter. Your orchid container’s size likewise dictates how often you need to water them. A 6-inch pot requires water every seven days, while a 4-inch pot, five to six days.

The potting medium used by the orchid is also important; an orchid set on bark needs more water than an orchid set in sphagnum moss. Note that bark tends to dry out faster than sphagnum moss, but a bark-mounted orchid’s roots may be sufficiently moist.

Poke the pot with your finger about an inch into the pot; if you feel moisture, don’t add any more water. Your orchid’s potting medium should be damp, not soggy, and never bone-dry.

As a rule of thumb, it’s better for orchids to be slightly under-watered in winter as less water means less moisture in the plant cells, as excess moisture could crystallize and kill the orchid.

Worst-Case Scenario

Should something go wrong and your orchid or orchids appear to have perished, don’t assume they’re dead and send them to the compost heap– they may have life left in them and can be revived.

When this happens, let the orchid medium dry, and keep it in a humid area (you can use humidifiers), away from direct heat and sunlight.

Don’t water the orchid and wait for new sprouts to grow. Once there are new sprouts, water the orchid with plain water, then follow up with a small dose of fertilizer and elements as new roots grow. You may even notice that this winter shock your orchid experiences may trigger new buds and flowering.

Final thoughts

Ensuring your orchids survive the winter is a delicate balance. Apply the right amount of water, light, and temperature. If the worst happens and it appears that your orchid or orchids have died, don’t give up on them and treat them as if they were newly re-potted.

Reduce the light exposure, apply some fertilizer and nutrients, space watering by 10 to 12 days, and your orchid could come back from the brink and make it through the winter.

And if you’d like to tilt the odds in favor of your orchids surviving the cold, choose the more acclimated species like cymbidiums, masdevallias, miltonias, odontoglossums, oncidiums, plain-leaved paphiopedilums or sophronitis orchids.

If you found this information on orchid care during winter interesting, we have other resources you can read.

We can assist you in every aspect of building a new luxury greenhouse that suits your tastes and meets your particular needs and specifications. Our mission is to ensure homeowners like you can enjoy the splendor of greenery within or close to your home, year-round.

Should you desire a quote for building your own conservatory today, you can contact us here.

In the Mood for Gourmet, Every Day? Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden

Fresh foods made from locally grown ingredients are all the rage. And if you’re going to be cooking with fresh ingredients, why not grow your own herb garden to have on hand?

The rising popularity of gourmet food has increased the demand for fresh ingredients, specifically herbs. Apart from the convenience of never having to go far to find fresh ingredients for your dish, with an indoor herb garden it’s straight from ‘farm’ to table.

Raising an herb garden in the luxury of your own garden room lets you enjoy fresh scents, flavors, and taste, all year round. Below are some tips to help you start your indoor gardening project.

Invest in good lighting

Your sunroom or garden room makes the ideal environment for growing sustained and harvestable amounts of herbs. This is because intense light (or anywhere from 6-8 hours of direct light) helps herbs produce the oils that give them their distinct flavor.

East- and west-facing windows give your plants an abundant amount of bright sun for about six hours. In the winter days, south-facing windows receive most of the sun.

In the winter, when abundant sunlight isn’t always a possibility, invest in artificial lights. Pick the right, energy-efficient grow light for your type of herb, to keep your plants healthy. Be sure not to use a sunlamp – these are for people and can do more harm than good for the plant.

Choose the best herbs to grow

Note that not all herbs can grow well indoors. Some herbs (such as dill and cilantro) will require constant replanting after trimming, making them the least viable choice for an indoor garden.

Meanwhile, perennial herbs, such as chives, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, and bay laurel are some of the easiest to grow. You can buy these from young plants at your local garden center. There are also herbs that you can start from cuttings (such as mint) and then those that are best started from seed (like basil and chervil).

Before buying seeds or young plants, ask the seller if the herb you intend to buy can thrive in an indoor garden.

Decide between soil and hydroponics

The discussion of using soil vs. hydroponics is often a lengthy one, given the number of factors to consider and what the individual wants to achieve.

Hydroponic systems are the choice for many indoor plant growers, as they make more efficient use of space compared to soil. Hydroponics don’t depend on external factors. Instead, it allows you to create the nutrient mixture, humidity, temperature, and growing schedule that’s ideal for growing your herbs indoors.

Starting your very own garden comes with plenty of benefits, both to your health and your budget. An indoor herb garden is not just a healthy choice for you, but it also makes valuable use of your luxury garden room. Ask Conservatory Craftsmen about building a garden room that’s perfect for growing plants and herbs. Call us at 612-281-4985 or fill out our form today.

Summer Greens: Edible Plants to Grow in Your Garden Room

Summer is here, and with it comes the opportunity to surround yourself with gorgeous plants – an act that can boost your mood and reduce depression and obesity. You don’t have to be outdoors to do this, either; with garden rooms, you can bring the beauty of greenery inside your home.

Garden rooms are ideal for growing edible plants, as these rooms provide the right conditions and the right amount of light indoors. You can grow almost anything in a garden room, but for summer, it’s better to tend to plants that can sustain the heat.   

Leafy Green Vegetables

It can be difficult to make the perfect home-grown salad when you have the juiciest tomatoes but dried up lettuce and spinach. Luckily, there are other leafy greens that can withstand the summer heat. Plants such as Chinese spinach, rhubarb chard, Malabar spinach, and sweet potato greens can be great substitutes for lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens. These plants can grow much faster in a garden room, where climate conditions are controlled.  

Strawberries

Fresh summer strawberries are among the most popular, most nutritious and refreshing fruits in the world – and you can easily grow them in your garden room. This plant loves well-lit, warm places, and are happy to grow in jars and hanging baskets. No matter where you plant them, strawberry plants can flourish as long as they are taken care of properly.

Parsley

Parsley is a popular herb that’s used in salads, sauces, and soups. It also often used as a garnish. Rich in vitamins A and C, as well as iron, this herb tastes good and is good for you. Parsley grows best in a cool and sunny area, planted in loamy soil with good drainage. It does well when planted in a container.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are fruits that require proper planting so that they can provide a plentiful harvest throughout the summer. They aren’t the easiest plant to grow, but they are one of the most popular.

Tomato plants need strong, direct light, so make sure you place them in the sunniest part of your garden room. Make sure that you plant them deeply in a big pot that you’ve filled with good quality soil. In the heat of the summer, you will have to water your tomato plants twice a day – the goal, though, is to keep the soil moist and not too wet.  

Eggplants

Eggplants are delicious, versatile vegetables that grow well in large containers. In order for eggplants to thrive and grow properly, you need to place them somewhere with full sun and good air circulation. You also need to keep their soil evenly moist so make sure that you provide enough moisture.

These are just some edible plants that can thrive in your garden room. If you don’t have a garden room to house your indoor plants and are looking to build one, turn to Conservatory Craftsmen. We can both design and build the luxury garden room of your dreams. Simply get in touch with us by giving us a call at 612-281-4985 or 888-345-7915.

What Gardening Can Do for You

Gardening is a rewarding hobby. It offers plenty of health benefits both physically and mentally. Gardening can also help enhance your home’s curb appeal, which may increase your property’s value when you decide to sell it. 

One way to improve the appearance of your property and keep your garden thriving, at the same time, is to get a custom luxury greenhouse built. With a high-quality greenhouse, you get all the benefits of gardening with less the effort.

Quick Access to Fresh Produce

With gardening, you’ll have fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits (if you like) with your meals. It saves you time and money because you don’t have to drive to the market to buy fresh produce. Growing your food ensures that what you serve to your family is safe from chemicals. 

Eating organically produced food is better than conventionally produced ones. Researchers suggest that organic food is rich in nutrients, like iron, vitamin C, phosphorus, and magnesium, among others. 

If you have an herb garden at home, you can enhance the flavor of your meals. For instance, you can intensify your chicken dishes with fresh rosemary and thyme. If you’re in the mood for an Italian dinner, oregano and basil can give your pizza or pasta an authentic flavor. Adding freshly picked herbs to your dish enhances its nutritional value, as well. 

Apart from improving your diet, studies show that gardening offers promising benefits to your well being. 

Gardening Improves Your Health and Wellbeing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that only less than a quarter of Americans meet the national physical guidelines. Although gardening is a simple form of workout, doing it regularly can still help you achieve the recommended amount of physical activity. 

When you do gardening, it allows you to bend and stretch your body. These movements can burn calories and strengthen your muscles. Staying active reduces your risk for various health problems, including:

  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight problems
  • Type II diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Colon cancer

A garden also gives you more exposure to green spaces. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests in a study that living in an area with access to green spaces lowers your risks for cardiovascular problems, including stroke and heart attack. People who live in greener neighborhoods also tend to have lower levels of stress. 

Bring Nature and Comfort Together in Your Home

Gardening is another way to spend quality time with your kids. Exposing your children to gardening helps them appreciate the food they eat. It can also encourage them to enjoy fruits and vegetables.

There are certain challenges to face when managing your garden, most notably weather changes. But with a high-quality greenhouse, it will be easier to handle these challenges.

As a conservatory contractor, we build smart greenhouses using high-grade materials, such as mahogany, aluminum, and glass. Our team also equips each structure with the latest technology in automation.You’ll be able to control everything in the greenhouse, including the temperature, lighting, and the irrigation system. 

Enjoy the benefits of gardening now. Contact us to know more about our services.

Winter Gardening: Ways to Keep Your Plants Healthy During Cold Season

Although it’s too late in the game to prepare your plants for winter, this is probably the time when you’re looking back and wondering what it was you should have done differently. Winter may be hard for some plants to live through, but you don’t need to “put your green thumb” into hibernation during this season.

You can still keep your plants healthy and thriving during the cold weather. Installing a greenhouse made of luxury materials, for example, is not only a beautiful addition to your property, but it can also protect your plants during winter. 

If you don’t have a greenhouse to continue to grow year-round, we know some great tips that can contribute to maintaining the health of the plants in your outside garden. And it all stems from early preparation.

Prepare Your Garden for Winter

It’s essential that you started preparing your garden as early as fall because this will give you enough time to do what is necessary to keep freezing temperatures from damaging your plants. One way to make your garden winter-ready is by ‘putting it to bed’. You can do this by pulling out all your annuals and leaving the perennials. 

You may also consider seeding in cover crops, like winter wheat. These plants serve as cover and protection for your soil during winter. When spring comes, you can till the crops into the soil. 

If you have indoor plants like cacti, you should start cutting back on watering because they will need less water in the winter. Water your cacti when the soil gets very dry and place them away from windows that let chilly air in so they won’t get too cold. 

For vegetable gardens, you need to cover tender seedlings. Most fall vegetables can survive temperatures of about 28 degrees Fahrenheit without damaging tissues. But it would be better if you have a few blankets ready to protect them overnight. Remove the blankets when the temperature increases above freezing so the heat won’t stay beneath the coverings. 

Taking Your Outdoor Plants Indoor

You can also save your container plants from the freezing temperature by bringing them indoors where the temperature is warm. But remember that not all of them can survive indoors due to their required growing conditions. It’s essential that you transfer them to a space that can provide for their unique needs for light, warmth, and humidity. 

When you’re moving outdoor plants indoors, prioritize those that are healthy for a greater chance of survival. Avoid bringing plants with pests or diseases, too. These plants can contaminate other healthy plants because problems spread easily indoors. 

It can be challenging to bring all your outdoor plants indoors, especially if you don’t have enough space for them. You may consider growing new plants using cuttings, which is a piece of a plant, be it a stem, a leaf, or a root. Plant cuttings could take much less space and they may also adapt better to new growing conditions than established plants.

Consider Building a Greenhouse

However, if you truly want to keep your plants alive during winter, adding a greenhouse to your property is really the most effective option. It allows you to have more space to grow your plants all year round. A smart greenhouse is even better because it allows you to automate the temperature, lighting condition, water, humidity and other crucial factors that contribute to a healthy growing condition. 

Our team at Conservatory Craftsmen focuses on building smart greenhouses using the finest materials and building techniques. We equip each greenhouse with automation and climate control technologies. With us you can always expect a luxurious outcome. 

Contact us today for more information.

How to Prepare Your Greenhouse for the Summer

Summer is here!

Greenhouses allow homeowners and commercial greenhouse keepers to cultivate plants that require specific conditions to grow. By keeping plants indoors, greenhouse keepers can manage outside factors to preserve the ideal environment year-round.

With summer here, greenhouse keepers should prepare for the necessary adjustments for the rising temperatures. Already, several areas in the country have seen environmental effects as summer season nears. Starting right now, it is essential to look at the following factors when adjusting for the months ahead.

Temperature

Temperatures will reach record highs in the next three months. Plants start to lose their moisture and risk withering or damaging at temperatures beginning at 81 degrees. It is necessary to prepare your greenhouse early in the day before the temperature increases, maintain the environment throughout the day, and keep it at an ideal temperature overnight. To accurately monitor the temperature, keep a room thermometer in the greenhouse.

Having open ventilation on the roof, windows, and doors can help the flow of air and decrease the hot air accumulating in the greenhouse. Another way is to provide shade on the roofs. Layers of shade paint on the roofs can filter out the sunlight and decrease the temperature. However, you will need to paint and brush them off depending on the weather. Automated blinds offer a much more versatile and long-lasting solution.

Humidity

Humidity is affected by the temperature: if the temperature increases, the moisture of the plants evaporates.  Ideally, greenhouses should be humid to mitigate the heat. Apart from watering the plants regularly to maintain its moisture, you can also keep the greenhouse damp by wetting it down. This increases the moisture in the air, ideal for plants to remain cool.

Ventilating a greenhouse lowers the temperature and humidity by decreasing the dampness inside. When the air is unable to flow, the heat gathers in the air and harms the plants. Avoid this by keeping the vents, windows, and door open to passing breezes to keep the inside of the greenhouse cool.

Install Smart Technology

Maintaining a traditional greenhouse during the summer seems to be challenging to do alone and may require more than one person to perform daily. But why should you do all the work yourself when you can have smart technology installed in your greenhouse and protect your plants with a simple push of a button? Or better yet, let us program the system so that it automatically adjusts to changing conditions – so you don’t even have to think about it!

Unlike traditional greenhouses, greenhouse manufacturers with smart technology (like us at Conservatory Craftsmen) provide automatic adjustment capabilities, addressing light, humidity, temperature, and other factors needed to create and maintain a good environment for plants.

With the high-temperature forecast for the months ahead, it is imperative that greenhouse owners make the necessary adjustments for the health of their plants. This can be done more conveniently with smart technology.

Conservatory Craftsmen‘s greenhouses are built with the latest in smart technology. Whether you want your greenhouse system to intelligently adapt as needed or control the adjustments yourself through a smart device, we can provide the environment automation you want to make your life easier.

Get in touch with us today.

Conservatory Building: 5 Decisions to Make Before You Begin

The materials, the style and many other factors of building a conservatory can help or hurt the environment.

Conservatory Construction Techniques Can Fight Global Climate Change

The natural resources of the world, though abundant, are being threatened by climate change and global warming. As a result, people are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint; how much energy we consume, the environmental factors in which their food is grown, and how to incorporate it all into our everyday life. A conservatory or greenhouse is where lifestyle meets practicality and sustainability.

When planning a home renovation, consider a conservatory or greenhouse. Traditional orangeries that originally functioned only as a place to grow plants and flowers have evolved into truly unique spaces in which to live. Conservatories and greenhouses are as custom as any other room addition; specialty muntins, hand woodworked details and stained glass makes each crystal palace one of a kind. Temperature control features keep the room comfortably tempered, without adding to electricity bills.

Read the guide below for the five decisions to make before you begin building a conservatory, or any home extension:

1. Know your goals.
Before anything else, you need to determine what you’re using the space for. Understand the size your property can accommodate, and how the design will work with the existing structure of the home.

2. Create a plan.
Now that you know what you want and what purpose the addition is for, you need to map out your plan. Communicate openly and regularly with your builder; make sure that all payment installments are in writing, and that expectation is set in terms of time to completion.

3. Set up a budget.
In setting up a budget, make sure it is realistic and within your means. This is a complicated process as the budget can restrict the whole process. Get quotes from several trusted contractors and understand the cost of labor in relation to the cost of materials.

4. Hire the right people.
Ask for as many references and feedback as you can before handing over any deposits. Check for negative feedback and complaints as well as certifications. Your choice will depend on your goals and budget, but there should be a long line of clients willing to offer a recommendation.

5. Prepare for inconveniences.
Because you hired the right people, this step, in theory, should be unnecessary. But the reality is that big projects with many details can run into unforeseen issues. Make sure to set aside a few extra dollars for unexpected problems.

Spring Planning for Your Outdoor Space

It’s early Spring. We have the itch we can feel it in the air, it’s time to get to work. Let’s start tagging, pinning and planning our outdoor spaces. This popular conservatory space will assist in providing inspiration!

Yes, it’s true while working on this project Illinois the homeowners provided us with enough Chicago style pizza that we brought home a few extra inches on our waists. This outdoor space made a lasing impression on us. The exterior walk up bar is the perfect spot to set drinks our your gooey slice of brick oven pizza.img_5012
How can you duplicate this space with your own backyard kitchen?

1) Plan your space. Get your ideas on paper. Talk to Landscape professional. Planning on the front end will save many headaches when under construction

2) How do you want your pizza oven to function?

Wood burning like this?

Wood burning ovens achieve a couple of dramatic effects:

  • Very high temperatures
  • Reduced cooking time
  • Thermal drafts in the oven from live wood create a natural current of warm air much like a convection oven so the pizza is cooked very evenly (this assumes that you use an actual, well designed wood oven).
  • Smoke from the wood infuses the crust with just a hint of live fire.

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Or gas?

Gas ovens are an inexpensive option.
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3) How do you want the space to feel?

Are you looking for and extensive hardscape project?
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Our conservatory project had 3-4 intimate spaces where people could sit, chat and munch on pizza. The hardscapes were designed with plants and people in mind.
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4) Now let’s accessories!

Lighting is an important factor to consider for any space but especially an outdoor one, where proper lighting can be easily overlooked. Accent lighting adds a decorative touch but one should first consider proper landscape lighting.

 

Furniture: The market is saturated with outdoor furniture. Be sure to select something that fits your space and can be easily stored in the off seasons. Comfort and fade-resistant fabrics are important too!

Seating: Smaller, more intimate seating area are great for conversation
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Prep Area: A great tip is to incorporate an outdoor pantry so you can save multiple trips to your kitchen. Granite is a great surface that can withstand exterior elements. A small prep area will save you from juggling at the table.
The Spring fever is really here and we are ready to go! And make a pizza…

Seed Starting in the Conservatory

The Holiday season is over, the decorations are down, the winter has a firm grip on life, and the mind begins to dream about the next season. Spring!

Last year was not a kind spring. Everything was late. I had to feed my poor bees until the third week of June before pollen finally was available in the typical spring blooms.

This year will be different. We are all hoping for that. So, let’s make a list and go seed shopping! Here are some helpful gardening tips that will guide you through seed starting in your conservatory.

Seedlings Emerge in the Greenhouse

1) Avoid the impulse to buy seeds at the ‘box store’. Nothing against box stores, but a lot against impulse seed buying. I did this for years and then after it was too late, regretted the plants and the harvest. You put a lot of time (all summer) into growing the plants, why not take a couple of minutes and study the varieties available and make good choices. The University of Minnesota is a great place to start. Check with your local Land Grant University for suggestions.

2) Be sure to stay ahead of the season. Or pay the price of expensive potting plants, with little variety to select from. Many garden centers spray growth inhibitor on the seedlings to they stay full, and don’t get long and leggy in the garden center. Problem is, they stay stunted and are poor producers. So there are several reasons to start you own seeds: cost, quality control and fun! Not all plants transplant well into the garden (beets, carrots). Make a calendar and plant your seeds by the clock!

3) Do not use seed ‘Catalogs’. The internet is a better source for a seed shopper. Avoid companies, just because they offer a sale. Not saying it won’t be a good deal, but seed quality is the most important. Note, I am not saying don’t buy seeds from companies who send catalogs, what I am saying is study the plants on the internet for full information. I recently looked at a seed catalog. It offered 9 seeds in the pack, for $3.49! After careful shopping, I was able to buy the same variety with 150 seeds in the pack for $1.49.

4) Design your garden. Impulsive gardens that result from buying plants at the nursery never work out. When in doubt, try ‘Square Foot Gardening’, but be sure if its vegetables or flowers, you have a plan on paper first. Go on Youtube and look at time saving techniques like ‘how to make your own seed tape’. It saves seeds and gets a fun project for the kids to do with you while you wait last frost of the year.

5) Organize. I make up a 3 ring binder and keep my notes in it from year to year. Plan the garden and follow the plan! I have a mixed light exposure around the conservatory. Lots of sun, some morning sun and some shady. I love it. I have a full pallet to paint with.
Water plants in the morning. Keep the young tender plants out of direct sun.

There is Order and Relaxation in the Planting of Seeds

6) Coordinate. Look at plant options. I Google things like “purple flowers that grow in sun“. You get to see lots of photos of plants that inspire. Pick a plant. Let’s say you are attracted to Salvia, a great plant that has great cut flowers, grows in sun, and of course I selected a purple variety.
Now, Google ‘Salvia’ and many suppliers will pop up. Look at their options. Now you can compare various promotions the companies offer, and order your seeds.

7) Track. Start a chart either on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet. List the plant, where you are ordering from (I bought mine from Swallowtail), the length of time to germination, and instructions on germination. This is important and often overlooked. Some plants do best planted in the soil where they go through the process and send up shoots. However, due to hormones in the seeds, some plants germinate in light and require to be at the surface of the planting to be successful. Make this note on your spreadsheet.

I can’t wait to get my seeds in the mail next week. Gardening is an enjoyable hobby , but like the professionals say it is 50% planning and 50% luck and I wish you all the luck my friends!

 

Six Automated Window Systems and Five New Air Conditioners

Natural Ventilation for Modern Office Buildings

While traditional mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are still widely used, contemporary concerns for improving the environmental performance and “livability” of buildings has led to an increased interest in alternatives like natural ventilation and mixed-mode systems.

A major benefit of HVAC, particularly in deep plan and larger office buildings, is that they alleviate many of the problems associated with a naturally ventilated building such as noise, dust, insects, heavy winds, odors and uncomfortable temperatures.

However, there are some studies suggesting that a mixed-mode ventilation system of HVAC and natural ventilation, in combination with good passive design, can provide sufficient indoor air quality to keep occupants happy while reducing their reliance on mechanical air treatment.

Typically, a mixed-mode system operates in either of two modes and is best used for buildings’ perimeter spaces or for narrow planned buildings with good cross ventilation. The first is the natural ventilation mode that uses fresh external air from operable windows or dampers to cool the internal spaces and relies predominantly on the stack effect for hot air to be expelled through high-level exhausts. The second is the mechanical mode and sees the windows closed and the HVAC switched on and is used only when the external temperatures are too hot or too cold for natural ventilation, or when there is a heavy wind or rain.

Control of the operable windows can be manual or automatic and, in keeping with current trends towards automated buildings, we’re seeing more automated window systems come to the market that are compatible with Building Management Systems (BMS).

Some window manufacturers offer built-in automated systems that can be controlled by a BMS and that come with inputs for automated weather stations and sensors that detect smoke, rain, hail, temperature, wind, time, and smog. Others advertise that their products can be easily automated with add-on products like actuators and reed switches, and can also incorporate into a BMS.

These products render manual operation from building occupants—one of the most difficult-to-control influences on a building’s environmental impact—unnecessary, as the BMS detects when it is optimal to open and close windows and to operate the HVAC.

Some of the problems associated with the manual operation of a building’s HVAC and natural ventilation, like occupants leaving windows open with the HVAC on for example can, therefore, be avoided with automated mixed-mode air-conditioning.