Monday, February 21, 2011


Assistant Professor
Department of Architecture and Planning
NED University of Engineering and Technology
TOPIC:                                                     VENTILATION

Ventilating is the process of "changing" or replacing air in any space to provide high indoor air quality (i.e. to control temperature, replenish oxygen, or remove moisture, odors, smoke, heat, dust, airborne bacteria, and carbon dioxide). Ventilation is used to remove unpleasant smells and excessive moisture, introduce outside air, to keep interior building air circulating, and to prevent stagnation of the interior air.

Ventilation includes both the exchange of air to the outside as well as circulation of air within the building. It is one of the most important factors for maintaining acceptable indoor air quality in buildings. Methods for ventilating a building may be divided into mechanical/forced and natural types. [1]

"Mechanical" or "forced" ventilation is used to control indoor air quality. Excess humidity, odors, and contaminants can often be controlled via dilution or replacement with outside air. However, in humid climates much energy is required to remove excess moisture from ventilation air.

Kitchens and bathrooms typically have mechanical exhaust to control odors and sometimes humidity. Factors in the design of such systems include the flow rate (which is a function of the fan speed and exhaust vent size) and noise level. If ducting for the fans traverse unheated space (e.g., an attic), the ducting should be insulated as well to prevent condensation on the ducting. Direct drive fans are available for many applications, and can reduce maintenance needs.

Ceiling fans and table/floor fans circulate air within a room for the purpose of reducing the perceived temperature because of evaporation of perspiration on the skin of the occupants. Because hot air rises, ceiling fans may be used to keep a room warmer in the winter by circulating the warm stratified air from the ceiling to the floor. Ceiling fans do not provide ventilation as defined as the introduction of outside air.

Natural ventilation is the ventilation of a building with outside air without the use of a fan or other mechanical system. It can be achieved with openable windows or trickle vents when the spaces to ventilate are small and the architecture permits. In more complex systems warm air in the building can be allowed to rise and flow out upper openings to the outside (stack effect) thus forcing cool outside air to be drawn into the building naturally through openings in the lower areas. These systems use very little energy but care must be taken to ensure the occupants' comfort. In warm or humid months, in many climates, maintaining thermal comfort solely via natural ventilation may not be possible so conventional air conditioning systems are used as backups. Air-side economizers perform the same function as natural ventilation, but use mechanical systems' fans, ducts, dampers, and control systems to introduce and distribute cool outdoor air when appropriate.

Ventilation is the intentional movement of air from outside a building to the inside. Ventilation air, as defined in ASHRAE Standard 62.1[2] and the ASHRAE Handbook, [3] is that air used for providing acceptable indoor air quality. It mustn't be confused with vents or flues; which mean the exhausts of clothes dryers, and combustion equipment such as water heaters, boilers, fireplaces, and wood stoves. The vents or flues carry the products of combustion which have to be expelled from the building in a way which does not cause harm to the occupants of the building. Movement of air between indoor spaces, and not the outside, is called transfer air.

In commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) buildings, and modern jet aircraft, return air is often recirculated to the air handling unit. A portion of the supply air is normally exfiltrated through the building envelope or exhausted from the building (e.g., bathroom or kitchen exhaust) and is replaced by outside air introduced into the return air stream. The rate of ventilation air required, most often provided by this mechanically-induced outside air, is often determined from ASHRAE Standard 62.1 for CII buildings, or 62.2 for low-rise residential buildings, or similar standards.

When people or animals are present in buildings, ventilation air is necessary to dilute odors and limit the concentration of carbon dioxide and airborne pollutants such as dust, smoke and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Ventilation air is often delivered to spaces by mechanical systems which may also heat, cool, humidify and dehumidify the space. Air movement into buildings can occur due to uncontrolled infiltration of outside air through the building fabric (see stack effect) or the use of deliberate natural ventilation strategies. Advanced air filtration and treatment processes such as scrubbing, can provide ventilation air by cleaning and recirculating a proportion of the air inside a building.

Mechanical or Forced Ventilation: through an air handling unit or direct injection to a space by a fan. A local exhaust fan can enhance infiltration or natural ventilation, thus increasing the ventilation air flow rate.
Natural Ventilation occurs when the air in a space is changed with outdoor air without the use of mechanical systems, such as a fan. Most often natural ventilation is assured through operable windows but it can also be achieved through temperature and pressure differences between spaces. Open windows or vents are not a good choice for ventilating a basement or other below ground structure. Allowing outside air into a cooler below ground space will cause problems with humidity and condensation.

Mixed Mode Ventilation or Hybrid ventilation: utilises both mechanical and natural ventilation processes. The mechanical and natural components may be used in conjunction with each other or separately at different times of day. The natural component, sometimes subject to unpredictable external weather conditions may not always be adequate to ventilate the desired space. The mechanical component is then used to increase the overall ventilation rate so that the desired internal conditions are met. Alternatively the mechanical component may be used as a control measure to regulate the natural ventilation process, for example, to restrict the air change rate during periods of high wind speeds.

Infiltration is separate from ventilation, but is often used to provide ventilation air.

The ventilation rate, for CII buildings, is normally expressed by the volumetric flowrate of outside air being introduced to the building. The typical units used are cubic feet per minute (CFM) or liters per second (L/s). The ventilation rate can also be expressed on a per person or per unit floor area basis, such as CFM/p or CFM/ft², or as air changes per hour.

For residential buildings, which mostly rely on infiltration for meeting their ventilation needs, the common ventilation rate measure is the number of times the whole interior volume of air is replaced per hour, and is called air changes per hour (I or ACH; units of 1/h). During the winter, ACH may range from 0.50 to 0.41 in a tightly insulated house to 1.11 to 1.47 in a loosely insulated house.[4]

ASHRAE now recommends ventilation rates dependent upon floor area, as a revision to the 62-2001 standard whereas the minimum ACH was 0.35, but no less than 15 CFM/person (7.1 L/s/person). As of 2003, the standards have changed to an addition of 3 CFM/100 sq. ft. (15 l/s/100 sq. m.) to the 7.5 CFM/person (3.5 L/s/person) standard. [5]

In 1973, in response to the 1973 oil crisis and conservation concerns, ASHRAE Standards 62-73 and 62-81) reduced required ventilation from 10 CFM (4.76 L/S) per person to 5 CFM (2.37 L/S) per person. This was found to be a primary cause of sick building syndrome.

Current ASHRAE standards (Standard 62-89) states that appropriate ventilation guidelines are 20 CFM (9.2 L/s) per person in an office building, and 15 CFM (7.1 L/s) per person for schools. In commercial environments with tobacco smoke, the ventilation rate may range from 25 CFM to 125 CFM.
In certain applications, such as submarines, pressurized aircraft, and spacecraft, ventilation air is also needed to provide oxygen, and to dilute carbon dioxide for survival. Batteries in submarines also discharge hydrogen gas, which must also be ventilated for health and safety. In any pressurized, regulated environment, ventilation is necessary to control any fires that may occur, as the flames may be deprived of oxygen.

ANSI/ASHRAE (Standard 62-89) sets maximum CO2 guidelines in commercial buildings at 1000 ppm, however, OSHA has set a limit of 5000 ppm over 8 hours.

Ventilation guidelines are based upon the minimum ventilation rate required to maintain acceptable levels of bioeffluents. Carbon dioxide is used as a reference point, as it is the gas of highest emission at a relatively constant value of 0.005 L/s. The mass balance equation is:
Q = G/(Ci − Ca)
  • Q = ventilation rate (L/s)
  • G = CO2 generation rate
  • Ci = acceptable indoor CO2 concentration
  • Ca = ambient CO2 concentration[9]


A Fume Hood Or Fume Cupboard is a type of local ventilation device that is designed to limit exposure to hazardous or noxious fumes, vapors or dusts. A fume hood is typically a large piece of equipment enclosing five sides of a work area, the bottom of which is most commonly located at a standing work height. Two main types exist, ducted and recirculating. The principle is the same for both types: air is drawn in from the front (open) side of the cabinet, and either expelled outside the building or made safe through filtration and fed back into the room. Other related types of local ventilation devices include: clean benches, biosafety cabinets, glove boxes and snorkel exhausts. All these devices address the need to control airborne hazards or irritants that are typically generated or released within the local ventilation device. All local ventilation devices are designed to address one or more of three primary goals:
  • protect the user (fume hoods, biosafety cabinets, glove boxes and pictures are now);
  • protect the product or experiment (biosafety cabinets, glove boxes);
  • protect the environment (recirculating fume hoods, certain biosafety cabinets, and any other type when fitted with appropriate filters in the exhaust airstream).
Secondary functions of these devices may include explosion protection, spill containment, and other functions necessary to the work being done within the device. A general but non-specific term for some of these local ventilation devices is Laminar flow cabinet. This category may include clean benches, biosafety cabinets and other devices characterized simply by the laminar nature of their airflow. The term laminar flow cabinet, however, is insufficient to identify their actual design and use - some will protect the product but not the user, and others will protect both.
Terminologies for local ventilation devices has been, and remain, unclear and non-specific, and the reader is advised to take special care in their selection and specification based upon which of the three primary goals (listed above) are to be met. Fume hoods typically protect only the user, and are most commonly used in laboratories where hazardous or noxious chemicals are released during testing, research, development or teaching. They are also used in industrial applications or other activities where hazardous or noxious vapors, gases or dusts are generated or released.

Because one side (the front) of a fume hood is open to the room occupied by the user, and the air within the fume hood is potentially contaminated, the proper flow of air from the room into the hood is critical to its function. Much of fume hood design and operation is focused on maximizing the proper containment of the air and fumes within the fume hood.

As most fume hoods are designed to connect to exhaust systems that expel the air directly to the exterior of a building, large quantities of energy are required to run fans that exhaust the air, and to heat, cool, filter, control and move the air that will replace the air exhausted. Significant recent efforts in fume hood and ventilation system design have focused on reducing the energy used to operate fume hoods and their supporting ventilation systems.

A biosafety cabinet (BSC), biological safety cabinet, or microbiological safety cabinet is an enclosed, ventilated workspace for safely working with materials contaminated with (or potentially contaminated with) pathogens in the laboratory. Several different types exist, differentiated by the specifics of construction.

Characterizing how air is introduced to, flows through, and is removed from spaces is called room air distribution. HVAC airflow in spaces generally can be classified by two different types: mixing (or dilution) and displacement.
Mixing systems generally supply air such that the supply air mixes with the room air so that the mixed air is at the room design temperature and humidity. In cooling mode, the cool supply air, typically around 55 °F (13 °C) (saturated) at design conditions, exits an outlet at high velocity. The high velocity supply air stream causes turbulence causing the room air to mix with the supply air. Because the entire room is near-fully mixed, temperature variations are small while the contaminant concentration is fairly uniform throughout the entire room. Diffusers are normally used as the air outlets to create the high velocity supply air stream. Most often, the air outlets and inlets are placed in the ceiling. Supply diffusers in the ceiling are fed by fan coil units in the ceiling void or by air handling units in a remote plant room. The fan coil or air handling unit take in return air from the ceiling void and mix this with fresh air and cool, or heat it, as required to achieve the room design conditions. This arrangement is known as 'conventional room air distribution'.

  • Group A: In or near ceiling, horizontal discharge
  • Group B: In or near floor, vertical non-spreading discharge
  • Group C: In or near floor, vertical spreading discharge
  • Group D: In or near floor, horizontal discharge
  • Group E: In or near ceiling, vertical discharge

Displacement ventilation systems supply air directly to the occupied zone. The air is supplied at low velocities to cause minimal induction and mixing. This system is used for ventilation and cooling of large high spaces, such as auditoria and atria, where energy may be saved if only the occupied zone is treated rather than trying to control the conditions in the entire space. Displacement room airflow presents an opportunity to improve both the thermal comfort and indoor air quality (IAQ) of the occupied space. It also takes advantage of the difference in air density between an upper contaminated zone and a lower clean zone. Cool air is supplied at low velocity into the lower zone. Convection from heat sources creates vertical air motion into the upper zone where high level return inlets extract the air. In most cases these convection heat sources are also the contamination sources (e.g., people, equipment, or processes), thereby carrying the contaminants up to the upper zone, away from the occupants.

The displacement outlets are usually located at or near the floor with the air supply designed so the air flows smoothly across the floor. Where there is a heat source (such as people, lighting, computers, electrical equipment, etc.) the air will rise, pulling the cool supply air up with it and moving contaminants and heat from the occupied zone to the return or exhaust grilles above. By doing so, the air quality in the occupied zone is generally superior to that achieved with mixing room air distribution. Since the conditioned air is supplied directly into the occupied space, supply air temperatures must be higher than mixing systems (usually above 63 °F or 17 °C) to avoid cold draughts at the floor. By introducing the air at supply air temperatures close to the room temperature and low outlet velocity a high level of thermal comfort can be provided with displacement ventilation.

Natural ventilation involves harnessing naturally available forces to supply and removing air through an enclosed space. There are three types of natural ventilation occurring in buildings: wind driven ventilation, pressure-driven flows, and stack ventilation. [10] The pressures generated by 'the stack effect' rely upon the buoyancy of heated or rising air wind driven ventilation relies upon the force of the prevailing wind to pull and push air through the enclosed space as well as through breaches in the building’s envelope (see Infiltration (HVAC)). Natural ventilation is generally impractical for larger buildings, as they tend to be large, sealed and climate controlled specifically by HVAC systems. [11] Both are examples of passive engineering and have applications in renewable energy.
DCV makes it possible to maintain proper ventilation and improve air quality while saving energy. ASHRAE has determined that: "It is consistent with the Ventilation rate procedure that Demand Control be permitted for use to reduce the total outdoor air supply during periods of less occupancy. CO2 sensors will control the amount of ventilation for the actual number of occupants. During design occupancy, a unit with the DCV system will deliver the same amount of outdoor air as a unit using the ventilation-rate procedure. However, DCV can generate substantial energy savings whenever the space is occupied below the design level.

Local exhaust ventilation addresses the issue of avoiding the contamination of indoor air by specific high-emission sources by capturing airborne contaminants before they are spread into the environment. This can include water vapor control, lavatory bioeffluent control, solvent vapors from industrial processes, and dust from wood- and metal-working machinery. Air can be exhausted through pressurized hoods or through the use of fans and pressurizing a specific area. A local exhaust system is composed of 5 basic parts
  • A hood that captures the contaminant at its source
  • Ducts for transporting the air
  • An air-cleaning device that removes/minimizes the contaminant
  • A fan that moves the air through the system
  • An exhaust stack through which the contaminated air is discharged

Combustion (e.g., fireplace, gas heater, candle, oil lamp, etc.) consumes oxygen while producing carbon dioxide and other unhealthy gases and smoke, requiring ventilation air. An open chimney promotes infiltration (i.e. natural ventilation) because of the negative pressure change induced by the buoyant, warmer air leaving through the chimney. The warm air is typically replaced by heavier, cold air. Ventilation in a structure is also needed for removing water vapor produced by respiration, burning, and cooking, and for removing odors. If water vapor is permitted to accumulate, it may damage the structure, insulation, or finishes. When operating, an air conditioner usually removes excess moisture from the air. A dehumidifier may also be appropriate for removing airborne moisture.

ASHRAE standard 62 states that air removed from an area with environmental tobacco smoke shall not be recirculated into ETS-free air. A space with ETS requires more ventilation to achieve similar perceived air quality to that of a non-smoking environment. The amount of ventilation in an ETS area is equal to the amount of ETS-free area plus the amount V, where:
V = DSD × VA × A/60E; V = recommended extra flow rate in CFM (L/s); DSD = design smoking density (estimated number of cigarettes smoked per hour per unit area); VA = volume of ventilation air per cigarette for the room being designed (ft3/cig]; E = contaminant removal effectiveness

In hot, humid climates, unconditioned ventilation air will deliver approximately one pound of water each day for each cubic foot per minute of outdoor air per day, annual average. This is a great deal of moisture, and it can create serious indoor moisture and mold problems.
  • Ventilation efficiency is determined by design and layout, and is dependent upon placement and proximity of diffusers and return air outlets. If they are located closely together, supply air may mix with stale air, decreasing efficiency of the HVAC system, and creating air quality problems.
  • System imbalances occur when components of the HVAC system are improperly adjusted or installed, and can create pressure differences (too much circulating air creating a draft or too little circulating air creating stagnancy).
  • Cross-contamination occurs when pressure differences arise, forcing potentially contaminated air from one zone to an uncontaminated zone. This often involves undesired odors or VOCs.
  • Re-entry of exhaust air occurs when exhaust outlets and fresh air intakes are either too close, or prevailing winds change exhaust patterns, or by infiltration between intake and exhaust air flows.
  • Entrainment of contaminated outside air through intake flows will result in indoor air contamination.
  • There are a variety of contaminated air sources, ranging from industrial effluent to VOCs put off by nearby construction work.

Ventilation Rate Procedure is rate based on standard, and “prescribes the rate at which ventilation air must be delivered to a space and various means to condition that air.” Air quality is assessed (through CO2 measurement) and ventilation rates are mathematically derived using constants.

Indoor Air Quality Procedure “uses one or more guidelines for the specification of acceptable concentrations of certain contaminants in indoor air but does not prescribe ventilation rates or air treatment methods.” This addresses both quantitative and subjective evaluation, and is based on the Ventilation Rate Procedure. It also accounts for potential contaminants that may have no measured limits, or limits are not set (such as formaldehyde off gassing from carpet and furniture).

  1. Ventilation and Infiltration chapter, Fundamentals volume of the ASHRAE Handbook, ASHRAE, Inc., Atlanta, GA, 2005
  2. ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, ASHRAE, Inc., Atlanta, GA, USA
  3. The ASHRAE Handbook, ASHRAE, Inc., Atlanta, GA, USA
  4. Kavanaugh, Steve. Infiltration and Ventilation In Residential Structures. February 2004
  6. ASHRAE, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc, Atlanta, 2002.
  7. Department of the Navy. Navy Safety and Occupational Health Program Manual. 30 May 2007.
  8. Apte, Michael G. Associations between indoor CO2 concentrations and sick building syndrome symptoms in U.S. office buildings: an analysis of the 1994-1996 BASE study data.” Indoor Air, Dec 2000: 246-258.
  10. How Natural Ventilation Works by Steven J. Hoff and Jay D. Harmon. Ames, IA: Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University, November 1994.
  11. ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals, Chapter 26 by American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Atlanta, GA: 2001.
  13. US EPA. Section 2: Factors Affecting Indoor Air Quality.
  14. ASHRAE Standard 62


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