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A good indoor climate in sports facilities – the toughest game to win?

Physical exercise is a part of a healthy lifestyle, but the indoor environments hosting training and games are not always up to the task. There is a complexity in designing energy efficient sports facilities with proper indoor environments. There is also lack of awareness of the challenges posed by indoor pollutants as well as their effect on athletes and spectators. However, awareness about these issues is growing within the scientific research community and among the athletes themselves, and luckily there are solutions available.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the Earth is about 400 ppm. Since we exhale CO2, it is more or less obvious that the levels of CO2 increase in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. It has been made clear that when the levels of carbon dioxide reach 800-1000 ppm, it begins to adversely affect the performance of our brains which may affect strategic decisions on the court.

The number of other gases and pollutant substances in the air are in the 1000s. Buildings unfortunately hold numerous sources of pollution that directly affect our health and well-being. Contaminants are emitted to the indoor air from sources such as furniture, construction materials and electronics. In the case of sport facilities, the frequent use of detergents and the sports equipment itself also emit significant amounts of pollutants to the indoor air.

Athletes and children are disproportionately vulnerable to poor air quality due to their higher breathing rate. They also spend a comparatively large share of their time in indoor sport facilities. To make matters worse, there is often a lack of regulations and requirements on the indoor climate in sports facilities, which risk making them exceptionally polluted, and thereby unhealthy and harmful.

Indoor climate and sports on the agenda

The above is capturing attention even outside of the building sector, and there is a growing interest and focus on research of the relationship between the indoor climate in sports facilities and athletes’ performance and well-being. The World Athletics organisation even launched a project in 2018 completely dedicated to research air quality and performance among top athletes. Part of the project is in progress and air quality monitoring sensors are in place to collect extensive amounts of data.

Even though research is in its early stages it is made clear that poor air quality affects athletes’ performance. Sometimes to the extent that they refuse to compete in certain locations. With that in mind, it doesn’t come as a surprise that good ventilation is of highest recommendation for sports facilities.

What makes sports facilities unique?

Sports facilities are rarely utilised in a constant manner. People are coming and going at different times and there can be differences in usage which is rarely seen in other building types – the same facilities can host a training session for just a few people, directly followed by a game with crowded spectator stands.

In addition, the layout and design of the sports facility is a challenge, sports arenas are rarely just laid out as one huge open space. The floor area is most often divided into different spaces with different purposes, think about a padel hall for instance, containing padel boxes, a café, changing rooms and perhaps even a shop. Not to mention the professional basketball team’s arena with stands, lounges, media boxes, restaurants and much more.

What can be done?

To be fair, most sports facilities are probably provided with a decent sized ventilation system, but are they suitable for the actual task at hand? To ventilate at full power might be appropriate with a full house arena, but may be counter-productive if only a few persons are training, causing discomfort and pointless energy consumption.

Since the indoor environmental quality also depends on factors such as temperature, humidity level, sound, air speed and light, the indoor climate solution should take all these aspects into consideration in order to create healthy and comfortable indoor environments where people can be at their best, today and tomorrow.

How to make the indoor climate a game changer

The key to success is understanding the matter at hand. A background, a challenge, a few leads and a descriptive solution is often the means to great achievements.

We have gathered some key insights about sports facilities in a new guide, as we know indoor climate and have years of experience in both development and manufacturing of a wide range of products and services for comfortable and healthy indoor environments.

In our guide you will find highlights from recent scientific research and further reading from our experts. The guide also holds real world design examples of how to create indoor climate solutions which monitor pollutants and evaluate the actual demand for ventilation, cooling and heating. All of this to create energy efficient and healthy indoor environments to bolster athletic performance and care for a true healthful lifestyle.