Air is a complex mixture of gases, water vapor, and heat. All living organisms require these three components, but not necessarily in the same proportions. Each organism has an optimum range of all three conditions, and any time the conditions are less than optimum, the organism is stressed. Management of these components may be critical within agricultural structures. Heating, cooling, and ventilation are used to modify the natural environment to reduce the environmental stress of animals and biological products.

The ability to manage building environments is based on an understanding of psychrometrics. Psychrometrics is the study of moist air. The constituents of air and their manipulation are easier to understand using a psychometric chart. The following sections explain the psychometric chart and provide examples of how it is used for heating and ventilation.

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