The rate of ventilation in buildings is regulated in most European countries to provide a sufficient exchange of clean air to maintain and ensure the health and comfort of building occupants. Information on the actual level of ventilation rates is needed to estimate the consequences of reduced ventilation on the potential increasing risk of health problems. Unfortunately only limited population based data are available on the measured ventilation rates of residences in European countries. To fill this data gap a model was developed that combines information from existing measurements, national legislation and building codes to estimate the probability distributions of ventilation rates in the residences of 26 European countries. These distributions were analysed against national building statistics to produce information on the number of residences which do not meet ventilation requirements as defined by the relevant national building codes.
Earlier results suggest that the mean ± SD air change rate per hour (ac/h) in residences varies from 0.6±0.4 in northern Europe to 1.1 ± 0.8 in southern Europe, and the population weighted mean of the 26 European countries is 0.8 ± 0.5. Further analysis of the distributions indicated that, on average, 32% of the residences in the 17 European countries that have some regulations defining minimum ventilation rates have mean air change rates below the defined limits. This means that around 53 million residences in total with an estimated number of people living in these residences of approximately 126 million are under ventilated. At country level the percentage of residences having mean ventilation rate below the national limit varies from 7% in Bulgaria to 46% in the Netherlands. In addition, the proportion of residences with mean ventilation rates below three other limit values: 1) 8 L/s per person, 2) 0.5 ac/h based on the EN15251 standard, and 3) a limit value based on the ASHRAE 62.1 standard were estimated.