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French policy for shelter-in-place: Airtightness measurements on indoor rooms

Gaëlle Guyot, Daniel Limoges, François-Rémi Carrié, 2012
air infiltration | air leakage | shelter-in-place | vulnerability | toxic risk | land-use | indoor air transfer | airtightness measurement
Bibliographic info: 33rd AIVC Conference " Optimising Ventilative Cooling and Airtightness for [Nearly] Zero-Energy Buildings, IAQ and Comfort", Copenhagen, Denmark, 10-11 October 2012
Languages: English

Accidental dispersion of toxic gas clouds may occur around industrial platforms or during hazardous materials transportation. In case of such a toxic risk, the best protection strategy is to remain inside a building and seek refuge in an airtight room identified as “shelter” until the toxic cloud has finally been swept off. This strategy called “passive shelter-in-place” also includes obstructing all external openings and turning off all mechanical ventilation systems

Following the AZF chemical accident (Toulouse, 2001, 31 deaths), a French law was adopted in 2003 that can compel public and private building owners to adopt such a shelter-in-place strategy. To prove that the shelter airtightness is sufficient and that the occupants will not be exposed to irreversible effects, the shelter's air leakage measurement is compulsory for buildings owners. Envelope leakage does not need to be measured.

This paper gives an overview and first analysis of collected airtightness measurements for these indoor shelters. More than 100 results have been collected, with information on the building use (one-family dwelling / multi-family dwelling / non residential), the required airtightness level, the volume, the floor area, the year of construction. The final goal of this database is to give a picture of the vulnerability of housing stock around industrial platforms.

The aim is to help local decision makers with information related to the cost and the extent of works to be done on buildings in order to protect people against toxic risk, e.g. to reach the expected airtightness requirement, regarding some criteria like building use, geometric characteristics of the shelter, year of construction.

These experimental data can also be used as inputs in multi-zone airflow and pollutant transfer model, when data on internal airtightness are needed to study inter-zone airflows.

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