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The relationship between airtightness and ventilation in new UK dwellings

Crawley, J; Wingfield, J; Elwell, C; (2019) The relationship between airtightness and ventilation in new UK dwellings. Building Services Engineering Research and Technology , 40 (3) pp. 274-289. 10.1177/0143624418822199. Green open access

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Abstract

The ATTMA airtightness testing competent persons scheme collects pressure test data and metadata from the majority of new build dwellings in the UK. This article uses the dataset to investigate the importance of the ventilation strategy in airtightness design and construction. Design and measured airtightness were tested for association with declared ventilation strategy. It was found that ventilation strategy makes a statistically significant difference to airtightness, however this difference is too small to be practically relevant. Properties with mechanical ventilation and heat recovery (MVHR) were shown to have a mean designed air permeability only 0.46 m3/m2h lower than naturally ventilated dwellings. 73% of homes with MVHR have design airtightness greater than or equal to 5 m3/m2h and 17% of naturally ventilated dwellings have design airtightness less than 5 m3/m2h. We discuss how current design is not maximising the CO2, cost and air quality benefit of each ventilation strategy. A new approach to regulatory compliance is proposed which explicitly links the designed airtightness and chosen ventilation system. It is suggested that compliance could then be achieved using a set of airtightness ranges linked to appropriate ventilation strategies. This could be expected to result in reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions for new build homes compared to the current approach, and would also potentially lead to better outcomes for occupants in terms of indoor air quality.

Type: Article
Title: The relationship between airtightness and ventilation in new UK dwellings
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0143624418822199
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1177/0143624418822199
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: ATTMA, airtightness, testing, building regulations, data
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10063766
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