Buildings Are Like Bodies For Energy Efficiency

Ashley Tang -- youth ambassador at the Energy Intelligence Center

Posted on Thursday 8th July 2021
Drawing comparisons between buildings and bodies

At the most basic level, both buildings and bodies are systems, mechanisms or interconnecting networks of components working together. Traditionally, buildings have been interpreted as static systems and bodies as dynamic systems. This means that buildings are built to withstand all anticipated loads, such as various weather conditions and the contents inside the building, and do not need to change to respond to external stimuli. Meanwhile, a body actively responds to the stimuli of the environment, making it a dynamic system. 

Structurally, buildings and bodies are very similar. For instance, the structural framework of a building can be compared to the skeleton of a body. Both provide a basic shape for the system, and without them the building or body would not exist. Moreover, not only does the shear wall of a building provide support, but it also provides stability and structure, similar to the way the spine acts in a human body. 

Then, in terms of physical appearances, there are many parallels between buildings and bodies. For example, the facade of a building, the front or exterior, is similar to a human’s face, the main component of a person’s appearance. Both a facade and a face are the key components to allow one to differentiate the building or person from other buildings and people. Furthermore, the doors of a building let people and objects into it, similar to the way that a mouth lets food and air enter the body, and windows and eyes both let light into the respective systems.

On top of that, the inner systems of buildings and bodies parallel each other even more. The electrical system of a building is comparable to the circulatory system of a body. Both generate and distribute energy for the system. Then, within the electrical system, a series of wires distributes electricity throughout the building, and within the circulatory system, the blood vessels and arteries transport blood throughout the body. Not only do these systems perform the same functions, but they also have components of each that look similar and act the same. Additionally, the plumbing system, consisting of the water supply and drainage systems, of a building takes in freshwater and takes wastewater out, which parallels the digestive and excretory systems of the body that takes in nutrients and lets out waste. 

While buildings are traditionally thought of as static systems, they parallel certain aspects of bodies that seem to suggest otherwise. At the core of the building, the IBMS (Integrated Building Management System) room takes in information from various parts of a building, and uses monitors and control devices to manage the building. Therefore, the IBMS room can be seen as the brain of the building as the brain takes in information from various parts of the body and controls the body. Accordingly, the temperature sensors in a building are similar to skin on a body as both react to the climate of the environment and send the information to the IBMS room or brain. Similarly, the carbon dioxide, LPG, and smoke detectors inside a building can be compared to the nose of a body. Lastly, there are strong parallels between the HVAC system of a building and the respiratory system of a body. The HVAC regulates the quality of air of the building just as the lungs in the respiratory system regulate the air that the body takes in. Furthermore, just as the HVAC system heats and cools the air inside of a room and controls humidity levels, the respiratory system filters the oxygen, and warms and humidifies the air that a body takes in.

These examples of how different parts of buildings and bodies parallel each other suggest that buildings are more than just static systems as they react and adapt to the information from within the building and the environment surrounding it. Perhaps as technology continues to advance, buildings will soon be considered dynamic systems.


For more information on buildings as bodies

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