Using a Ventilation Controller to Optimize Residential Passive Ventilation For Energy and Indoor Air Quality

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Journal Article



One way to reduce the energy impact of providing residential ventilation is to use passive and hybrid systems. However, these passive and hybrid (sometimes called mixed-mode) systems must still meet chronic and acute health standards for ventilation. This study uses a computer simulation approach to examine the energy and indoor air quality (IAQ) implications of passive and hybrid ventilation systems, in 16 California climate zones. Both uncontrolled and flow controlled passive stacks are assessed. A new hybrid ventilation system is outlined that uses an intelligent ventilation controller to minimise energy use, while ensuring chronic and acute IAQ standards are met. ASHRAE Standard 62.2-2010 – the United States standard for residential ventilation - is used as the chronic standard, and exposure limits for PM2.5, formaldehyde and NO2 are used as the acute standards.

The results show that controlled passive ventilation and hybrid ventilation can be used in homes to provide equivalent IAQ to continuous mechanical ventilation, for less use of energy. On average, the controlled passive system saved 6% of ventilation-related energy compared to the mechanical system, while the hybrid system saved 24%. We also show that passive systems benefit greatly from maximum flow controllers that limit over-ventilation, and we provide guidance on the appropriate sizing of passive stacks.

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