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Characterising the airtightness of dwellings: its improvement over time and relationship to construction techniques

Ashdown, M; Crawley, J; Biddulph, P; Wingfield, J; Lowe, R; Elwell, C; (2019) Characterising the airtightness of dwellings: its improvement over time and relationship to construction techniques. International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation 10.1108/IJBPA-02-2019-0024. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Purpose: This paper investigates the distribution of dwelling airtightness test results for a developer, between 2007 and 2011. The changes in airtightness test results over time are discussed, and links between the airtightness test results and the construction technique investigated. Design/methodology/approach: The statistical analysis of a dataset of airtightness test results, applying a probabilistic model of the distribution and inferring parameters using Bayesian analysis. Findings: The inferred background distributions, those estimated to describe dwelling performance before secondary sealing, suggest an improvement in airtightness between 2008 and 2011, the mode decreases from 5.46±0.09m3/m2h to 4.12±0.07m3/m2h, with a corresponding shift in practice towards a more target driven approach. The most airtight dwellings are constructed from reinforced concrete frame, followed by ‘traditional’ (dry lined masonry), timber frame, and lightweight steel frame. Research limitations: This study is limited by the size of the available dataset (901 dwellings), and by the fact that the dataset contains a larger proportion of flats to houses; however, the metadata has enabled the exploration of the link between construction practices and airtightness. Practical implications: Developers need better guidance surrounding how to meet more stringent airtightness requirements through improvements to the primary air barrier, with incentives and support to deliver changes in practice. Furthermore, if a large number of dwellings undergo secondary sealing, this may have implications for the long term efficiency of the dwelling stock. Originality/value: This analysis investigates two issues that have not previously been studied on a significant number of dwellings: the changes to the distribution of airtightness results over time and the link between construction methods and airtightness.

Type: Article
Title: Characterising the airtightness of dwellings: its improvement over time and relationship to construction techniques
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1108/IJBPA-02-2019-0024
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJBPA-02-2019-0024
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.
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/10074958
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