Building tight – ventilating right? How are new air tightness standards affecting indoor air quality in dwellings?

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9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Building more air-tight dwellings is having a deleterious impact on indoor air quality. In a range of recently completed dwellings CO2 concentrations were measured in occupied bedrooms at unacceptable concentrations (occupied mean peak of 2317ppm and a time weighted average of 1834ppm, range 480-4800ppm). Such high levels confirm that air-tight dwellings with only trickle ventilators as the 'planned' ventilation strategy do not meet the standards demanded by the Building Regulations. Reducing ventilation rates to improve energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions, without providing a planned and effective ventilation strategy is likely to result in a more toxic and hazardous indoor environment, with concurrent and significant negative long-term and insidious impacts on public health. Furthermore, the methodology underpinning the current regulations cannot be considered as creditable. While the complexity around numerical modeling often leads to conclusions based upon simplistic and unrealistic assumptions around all doors in a dwelling being open and trickle ventilators being unobstructed, this paper demonstrates that in 'real life' situations, this is not the case and could lead to significant risks of under ventilation. This is particularly the case when standards and guidance are based upon theoretically modeled scenarios that are not representative of real-life operation. The consequences of this are important in terms of the likely negative impacts on occupant health.

LanguageEnglish
Pages475-487
Number of pages13
JournalBuilding Services Engineering Research and Technology
Volume35
Issue number5
Early online date27 Nov 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014

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Air quality
Ventilation
Air
Public health
Energy efficiency
Health
Carbon

Keywords

  • air tightness
  • asthma
  • health
  • indoor air quality
  • trickle ventilation

Cite this

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title = "Building tight – ventilating right? How are new air tightness standards affecting indoor air quality in dwellings?",
abstract = "Building more air-tight dwellings is having a deleterious impact on indoor air quality. In a range of recently completed dwellings CO2 concentrations were measured in occupied bedrooms at unacceptable concentrations (occupied mean peak of 2317ppm and a time weighted average of 1834ppm, range 480-4800ppm). Such high levels confirm that air-tight dwellings with only trickle ventilators as the 'planned' ventilation strategy do not meet the standards demanded by the Building Regulations. Reducing ventilation rates to improve energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions, without providing a planned and effective ventilation strategy is likely to result in a more toxic and hazardous indoor environment, with concurrent and significant negative long-term and insidious impacts on public health. Furthermore, the methodology underpinning the current regulations cannot be considered as creditable. While the complexity around numerical modeling often leads to conclusions based upon simplistic and unrealistic assumptions around all doors in a dwelling being open and trickle ventilators being unobstructed, this paper demonstrates that in 'real life' situations, this is not the case and could lead to significant risks of under ventilation. This is particularly the case when standards and guidance are based upon theoretically modeled scenarios that are not representative of real-life operation. The consequences of this are important in terms of the likely negative impacts on occupant health.",
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