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Infiltration, Ventilation, and Indoor Air Quality

The traditional core of research in the EPB group has been for the Department of Energy's efforts to reduce energy requirements for infiltration and ventilation while still providing acceptable indoor air quality. In addition to the areas listed below, there is continuing research on air leakage, heat and mass flow simulation, tracer gas technology and occupant comfort.

Residential Infiltration

In recent years, attempts at energy conservation have required a reduction in infiltration rates. However, this process does still occur in most buildings, especially residential buildings, and can have a significant impact on the overall ventilation and energy performance. Past research has produced some simple equations that relate geometrical characteristics of the crack and pressure differences to the infiltration air flow rate. Current work is directed at determining changes in the net energy transport through building envelopes caused by infiltration. Information on infiltration air flow rates and energy transport make it possible to determine the impact of the infiltration process on the overall ventilation and energy performance in residential buildings.

Residential Ventilation

The largest recent effort in this area has been on residential ventilation which has been an effort to quantify the potentials and characteristics of U.S. homes including energy, ventilation, and economics.

Ventilation-related Standards

We have been a strong supporter of voluntary or consensus standards and have been involved heavily in ASHRAE and ASTM. Currently ASHRAE Standard 62 on Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality is being revised. Click here to view a power point presentation given by Max Sherman on ASHRAE Standard 62. We have also worked on measurement standards and air tightness standards and test methods. We have also been involved in working with the International Standards Organization to adopt some of these.

International Energy Agency

We represent U.S. interests in the Air Infiltration and Ventilation Centre, which is a part of IEA's work on Energy Conservation in Buildings and Community Systems. The AIVC is an information dissemination organization that creates technical reports, holds annual conferences and supplies information to interested parties from member countries. We have also lead the IEA effort in the development of the COMIS [Annex23] simulation program for calculating air and pollutant transport in multicell buildings.

Indoor Air Quality

While reducing infiltration and ventilation can save energy and money, the dilution they cause is the dominant mechanism for providing indoor air quality through dilution of indoor pollutants. The research efforts in the Energy Performance of Buildings Group is focussed on energy and air transport phenomena, but other efforts in the Building Technology and Urban Systems Department deal more directly with pollutants, exposure, risk assessment and contaminant control technologies.

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Last Modified: September 5, 2003