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Ventilation: Another Arrow for the Quiver of the Smart Home Performance Professional

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The Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry is more than 100 years old. Like life, the business is ever changing. Ventilation knowledge has become more important as homes have become more energy efficient. For the Home Performance Contractor, the proper understanding and use of mechanical and natural ventilation can be an effective tool for successfully delivering Home Performance to your clients.

Ventilation seems like it ought to be a simple subject. Bring in a few cfm’s of outside air and let it waft through the home … improving air quality by removal and/or dilution of indoor pollutants. What could be simpler? Actually, lots of things are simpler.

In the difficult world where Home Performance Contractors live and work, the practical and proper installation of mechanical fresh air is not so simple. Ventilation has long been the silent “V” of our industry. The standards are not easy to understand and the rules of practice are full of challenges. As practitioners in this industry, we have lost or never pursued much knowledge in this area. There are “products” that help. Yet, there is no silver bullet. Each product (or product class) has its own set of strengths, weaknesses and application challenges. As we tighten up these buildings in our home performance businesses, we need to talk about the understated and often overlooked issue of mechanical ventilation. The “V” has returned to the forefront of the industry.

At Tempo, Steve Saunders is the CEO of a 48 year old contracting and service company that has worked in Home Performance for more than 8 years. Tempo has a large new construction installation business where they are required by codes and programs to install ventilation as part of dealing with new homes that are dramatically better sealed and insulated than in past decades. Steve is also the CEO of TexEnergy Solutions / US-EcoLogic, consultant companies who deliver energy and green building services for new and existing buildings. As a contractor, Tempo struggles with the proper techniques and products to address a growing need. As a consultant, the concerns about air quality and strategies to best deliver come up on almost every project. There is a need for better understanding and better work. Tempo will not have all the answers … but, they have surely seen many of the questions.

Yes, ventilation in Existing Homes is both vexing and perplexing. That is why this is an important and timely subject for the Building Performance Conference. If the building is too tight, even if it is energy efficient; it may not be a great and healthy place to live. What is not settled are how much Fresh Air and even more about how best to get it in the home? However, the experts do agree, “As we tighten our buildings and make them more energy efficient, we are dumb if we do not use mechanical means to exhale stale, moist, or odorous air and to pipe in fresh clean air from the outside.” We can’t kill off the need for Fresh Air in our buildings … new and existing …no matter how hard we have tried.

Join us this October for the ACCA Building Performance Forum and participate in the learning lab Ventilation of Existing Homes…As we tighten them up! This Home Performance Seminar will provide some clarity to the complex issues surrounding mechanical ventilation in low-rise residential buildings. We will discuss why ventilation might be important? We will talk about the various issues surrounding when your company might think about using ventilation. The session will discuss the difference between “spot” and “whole house” methodologies. You will hear about the strengths and weaknesses of various methodologies and get insights into some tricks on how to make compliance easier and reduce callbacks and frustration. It is time to put another arrow in your Home Performance Quiver.

Steve Saunders

Posted In: Building Performance, Residential Buildings

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