How Much Does A Horse Breathe? – Massey Equine Vet School – Case Study

Not all buildings have human occupants to design for.Massey Equine Vet School Simulation ModelWhen InsideOut was consulted about the design for the new Equine Veterinary Clinic for Massey University outside Palmerston North we had some veterinary research of our own to do. How much does a horse breathe? To tell the truth of it we had no idea!

The initial questions about the barn were more standard. They were about thermal comfort, ventilation, condensation and insulation; but this time there were occupants who weren’t human.

Massey Equine Vet School SurgeryIt’s important to make sure any design is evidence based and occupant centred.

Resources are always limited so why pay for something you don’t need? Likewise, why miss something vital out that is going to make the difference in the success of the project?

We have to look at materials and plant, the indoor environment, running costs and long term durability. So what did the design need to include?

Some of the questions InsideOut focussed on were:

  • Do the human occupation areas used for surgery, pharmacy and equine treatment space and the training facility need cooling, or even heating, if the space is well insulated?
  • How much insulation does ‘well insulated’ mean, and where does it need to be?
  • What temperature conditions will the horses have in the barn and stalls?
  • Will the ventilation be adequate for respiration, and moisture and odour control?
  • Will there be a condensation issue in the walls or at the roof with all that respiration and perspiration (and urination) going on 24/7?

Massey Equine Vet School StudentsOptimisation was the key. The answers, backed up with simulation evidence were straightforward.

  • Provide heating for humans and cooling for surgeons.
  • Confirmed plenty of fresh air for the horses.
  • Insulate the walls of the human spaces but interestingly not the suspended ceilings.
  • We should look in more detail at wall condensation as the project design progresses.

The budget gave a sigh of relief. HVAC requirements were focussed and necessary. Insulation was placed where it was doing a job. And vitally, there was clarity on internal conditions for horses and humans.

Oh, by the way it turns out a horse breathes between 8 and 80 l/s depending on whether it is resting or running at full tilt! Hope that one comes up in your next charity quiz.

If you’d like a guided tour why not try the video from the Massey Vet School themselves.

Massey Equine Vet School Simulation Model 2

Author: Ruth Williams – Principal, Buildings That Work InsideOut Ltd

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