Indoor Air Quality in Selected New-build Airtight Dwellings: A UK Case Study

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Awareness of the impacts of climate change, rising energy prices, fuel poverty and a demand for energy security have prompted significant changes in design thinking, construction practice and legislation aimed at reducing energy use and carbon dioxide emissions within the domestic sector. A fundamental feature of energy efficient building design is the incorporation of an airtight envelope, which helps to reduce uncontrolled airflow through the building structure. Whilst this minimises heat loss associated with infiltration, there is growing concern that the requirements for purpose-provided ventilation have not received due attention. This, in turn with an increasing dependence on mechanical ventilation systems to achieve adequate levels of ventilation, has resulted in significant concern and anxiety regarding the potential detrimental impact of energy efficient design strategies on the quality of indoor air.This study emerged with the principal aim of understanding and evaluating the relationship between energy efficient design strategies and indoor air quality in new-build UK social housing, using a Case Study approach. Four new-build energy efficient housing schemes were investigated, employing a variety of data collection techniques; including physical indoor air quality measurements (with simultaneous monitoring of external conditions), building surveys, occupant diaries and interviews with the building occupants, design teams, Housing Associations, and Mechanical & Electrical consultants.The evidence from this study suggests that the quality of indoor air in the Case Study dwellings was generally poor, which raises concerns regarding the potential implications on occupant health and wellbeing. Moreover, significant concerns were highlighted regarding the applicability of heat recovery ventilation for a social housing context. The findings provide much needed insight into indoor air quality in airtight dwellings, which may be used to aid the design of effective sustainable residential buildings that consider not only energy efficiency, but also adequately address occupant health and exposure to indoor air pollutants.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queens University Belfast
Award date4 Jul 2016
Place of PublicationBelfast
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2016


  • indoor air quality
  • ventilation
  • social housing


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