Building airtightness : how tight is tight enough ?

The author explains that too tight building envelopes can cause bad operation of atmosperically vented combustion systems (e.g. gas water heaters) in case of of unintended depressurization of the building, for example with large exhaust fans and dirt filters. He considers that airtightness requirements of standards are often too severe. He proposes a building airtightness of 2 to 6 air changes per hour at 50 Pa for warm climates and 1.5 to 4 for cold climates, buildings with atmospherically vented combustion appliances being at the high end of the range or higher.

Surveys on depressurisation-induced backdrafting and spillage.

Surveys on repressurization-induced backdrafting and spillage were conducted in threedifferent areas of the United States using a common protocol, primarily to assess thecorrespondence between short-term tests and one week of continuous monitoring per house.The short-term tests, under induced conditions, can only indicate whether there is a possibilitythat backdrafting or spillage might occur, whereas real-time monitoring under naturalconditions can give a true indication of backdrafting and spillage events.

Putting pressure on building codes.

House depressurization is a ubiquitous, dangerous problem. As regional mechanical codes move toward consolidation into one International Mechanical Code, now is the time to add a performance testing requirement for house depressurization.

Regional and national estimates of the potential energy use, energy cost and CO2 emissions associated with radon mitigation by sub-slab depressurization.

Active sub-slab depressurization (SSD) systems are an effective means of reducing indoor radon concentrations in residential buildings. However, energy is required to operate the system fan and to heat or cool the resulting increased building ventilation. We present  regional and national estimates of the energy requirements, operating expenses and C02 emissions associated with using SSD systems at saturation (i.e. in all US homes with radon concentrations above the EPA remediation guideline and either basement or slab-on-grade construction) .

Radon mitigation and backdrafting.

Comparison of indoor levels of radon between workplaces and homes located nearby in different parts of Finland.

The aim of this study was to compare the radon levels at workplaces and in homes located nearby. Homes (number of 57) and partly or fully underground workrooms (number of 55) have been studied at the four workplaces in southern Finland and one workplace in northern Finland. Radon concentrations both at workplaces and in homes seemed to be at the same level in the same district. The mean radon concentration in workrooms was 406 Bq.m³, and in homes concentration was 398 Bq.m³.