The health impacts of indoor air quality (IAQ) are all too often overlooked by building owners and occupants – particularly given the prevalence of respiratory illnesses and hypersensitive allergies amongst members of modern society.

This problem can be significantly alleviated by means of improved ventilation, which removes the chemical compounds, microbes or moisture harboured within an indoor environment by flushing out stale air and replacing it with fresh air.

While ventilation had previously been a challenge for certain modern buildings – in particular those whose windows are situated in elevated, hard-to-reach locations that make manual manipulation impossible – the development of mechanical actuators that can be controlled electronically has proven to be an easy fix for such issues.

Shane Grice, director of Unique Window Services, notes that the latest trend in window actuator technology is the development of fully automated systems that can further enhance indoor environmental conditions and energy efficiency.

“The new systems are designed to be completely hands off – you can now automate the opening and closing of windows to create ventilation, whereas in the past there was usually just a wall mounted switch that the occupant would use to open or close windows to suit their comfort levels,” he said.

“After that however, users would often forget about making further adjustments about, so as more people enter the room windows could remain shut for too long and either the temperature or CO2 levels go up.”

Modern actuator systems are capable of automatically adjusting windows in direct response to both external and internal conditions in order to achieve the precise indoor environments that building occupants desire.

“The newer automated systems are capable of constantly monitoring the indoor and outdoor environments and making subtle adjustments to windows based on both,” said Grice.

“The systems don’t simply drive the windows all the way open or shut to allow the temperature to go up or down drastically. They instead take their cues from changes in CO2 levels, indoor temperature, outdoor temperature, relatively humidity, as well as wind and rain, in order make changes to windows in small increments.”

New smart windows are also capable of more complex configurations to suit the precise needs of various building types in different environments, as well as integration with other facilities and equipment used to regular indoor temperatures.

“If you’ve got a four-sided building – a sports hall perhaps – and you’re receiving heavy winds from one area, the latest systems can actually shut the windows on the windward side automatically, while leaving those of the other three aspects open,” Grice said.

“They can be incorporated into existing smart home set-ups and interface with heaters and air-conditioners, so if you’re currently using mechanical air-conditioners and heating elements it can turn those on and off when required.”

According to Grice, these types of fully automated systems have already been installed in several high-profile buildings around the country, including Netball Central building at Olympic Park in Sydney and the ADF’s Jezzine Barracks in Townsville.