Providing fresh, uncontaminated air and thermal comfort to the people in your buildings.
Ventilation systems should provide high quality air, thermal comfort and energy efficiency, while preventing potential problems from overheating, noise ingress and polluted outdoor air.
BRE has many years’ experience of measuring ventilation rates in a wide range of buildings, including homes, schools, hospitals, offices and industrial premises. We help to ensure that the ventilation systems in buildings of all types gives optimum quality indoor environments, while making efficient use of energy and complying with Building Regulations (Approved Document F) and environmental certification schemes (e.g. BREEAM).
We use a range of techniques to meet your particular needs, for example:
Short-term measurements (typically 1 hour): This provides a ‘spot-check’ of the ventilation rate to check compliance with regulations and requirements. These can also be used to investigate the effect of opening/closing vents, trickle-vents and windows, and altering fan speeds.
Long-term measurements (1-4 week periods): This gives time-averaged ventilation rates including all effects arising from occupant activities, e.g. opening windows and doors, and using extract fans.
Inter-zonal air flow measurements (1-4 week periods): This provides time-averaged measurements of the air flow between different parts of buildings. It is especially important in understanding how to avoid either cross-contamination or the transmission of infections.
Combined with air quality: we use ventilation measurements in conjunction with indoor air quality measurements to check if a building complies with health, safety and environmental legislation, and environmental certification schemes.
New techniques: BRE developed the passive PerFluorocarbon Tracer (PFT) technique for measuring ventilation in large and complex buildings. We also pioneered the use of new, more environmentally-friendly ventilation tracers (see publication for more information) to replace those traditionally used (such as sulphur hexafluoride) which have been withdrawn on environmental grounds.
We also carry out airtightness testing, post-occupancy evaluation and testing on HVAC systems.
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Example ventilation projects
Ventilation in hospital wards
Measurements of ventilation rates and inter-zonal air flows in a number of different UK hospital wards as part of a BRE Trust funded research project. The aim was to understand how ventilation rates can affect indoor air quality and air movement between zones in hospitals of a variety of different building types and ages.
New Zealand homes
We worked remotely with BRANZ (our sister building research organisation in New Zealand) to measure ventilation rates in a project on airtightness and ventilation in NZ homes. Longer-term (2-week) measurements were carried out using the PFT technique:
A survey of airtightness and ventilation rates in post-1994 NZ homes. S. McNeil, L. Quaglia, M. Bassett, M. Cunningham, G. Overton, M. Plagmann, S. Upton, M. Boulic, P. Leardini, K. Rosemeier, I. Smith, T. Bishop. Paper to AIVC Conference, Copenhagen. 2012.
Heat loss in a hospital
Ventilation rates were measured in four separate locations and averaged over two weeks, and this was coupled with infrared thermography and air tightness tests. Following the resulting recommendations could save the hospital thousands of pounds a year.
The effects of cooking in an airtight home
Measurements of ventilation rate and various air quality parameters were carried out in a modern, airtight home to investigate the effect of different types of fuel (electricity and gas)’ cooking (boiling, frying) and ventilation rate (NHBC (2013)).
We found that frying food produced more air pollutants than boiling, the use of gas as a cooking fuel produced more nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particles, and the ventilation system in the house did not provide a significant change in ventilation rate when operated in the ‘boost’ mode as compared with the ‘normal’ mode. With the ventilation system off (to simulate a potential failure), many of the air pollutants remained in the house for long periods of time.
Guidance on natural ventilation
We calculated the ventilation rates of a low energy office building as part of a European project to advise the construction industry of the viability of naturally ventilated office buildings. The “constant concentration technique” was used to provide a ventilation measurement every 30 minutes over the monitored period.
A guidance document and accompanying CD was produced for architects and designers on how to overcome the barriers that may be preventing them from designing naturally ventilated buildings.