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GSA study uncovers inadequate ventilation in new build homes

April 26 2016

GSA study uncovers inadequate ventilation in new build homes
Research conducted by the Glasgow School of Art in conjunction with Hanover Housing Association into the quality of ventilation in new build homes has found that many fail to meet minimum standards for air quality.

As a result of the findings all new build properties must now be fitted with CO2 sensors and a public awareness film has been produced to inform residents of the invisible dangers posed by poor quality air in an effort to dispel widespread public ignorance on the subject.

Professor Tim Sharpe, head of the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit, said: “Poor indoor air quality, particularly in bedrooms, is hard for people to detect. “There are clear links between poor ventilation and ill-health so people need to be aware of the build-up of CO2 and other pollutants in their homes and their potential impact on health.
“Modern homes are increasingly airtight and can also contain a great number of pollutants and chemicals, many of which can have serious health effects. It is clear from this research that buildings are simply not well ventilated and this could seriously impact on occupant’s health, especially vulnerable people such as those with COPD and asthma.”

Residents of 200 properties built to modern air-tightness standards have been studied by MEARU since 2010 with key findings including the fact that 42 per cent of mechanical extract systems fall below current building regulations.

Further results showed that 63 per cent of trickle vents were kept permanently closed and that only 20 per cent of people left their bedroom windows open overnight.


#1 Posted by Stephen on 26 Apr 2016 at 12:40 PM
Interesting research. I'd like to know in what way the 42% of extract systems failed to meet regs. Were they not maintained and therefore clogged, or did they not achieve the manufacturer's spec or some other issue?
I can imagine there'll always be resistance to keeping windows and trickle vents open because people see their hard-earned cash (in the form of heated air), going out of the window. That's why MVHR is the preferred system from my perspective. There also needs to be greater understanding and control of VOCs through regulation.
I'm actually not clear as an architect what level of moisture would be considered bad for occupants (rather than just the house). I would rely on the regulations and on larger jobs, on the M&E engineer's requirements. Obviously a mouldy house isn't healthy (and a lot of condensation is a signifier of problems) but other than that, what are the risks and limitations?
Big Chantelle
#2 Posted by Big Chantelle on 26 Apr 2016 at 12:56 PM
Yet anuther failure fae the folk that brought u 'modernitay'. Concrete modernism personified.

So, not only ur new builds uglay, they dinnae even function properlay eithur.

Shameful. Aw this disregard fur doing hings properlay an profit driven agendas is fueling this and its the wee people who suffer mast.

But hey, at least thur no pastiche.
#3 Posted by Rambo on 26 Apr 2016 at 13:07 PM
Good conclusions which are probably correct, most people live in stock built house. The worrying part is that we still build with materials that are bad for us.

Im pretty sure this research has been put out there before from Strathclyde University but its harder to ignore two dogs barking rather than one.
Art Vandelay
#4 Posted by Art Vandelay on 26 Apr 2016 at 13:23 PM
Interesting stuff. From personal experience a significant effort is required on the education side, especially with MVHR systems where I've often seen vent grilles taped over in new build properties. That particular system has a lot of advantages, but there's definitely more work required in coming up with a truly 'resident proof' system that can't be tampered with.

Given the ever more stringent air tightness requirements, it needs to just 'work' with little or no input.
#5 Posted by Stephen on 26 Apr 2016 at 15:28 PM
@ 2. Chantelle, which article are you referring to? Your points don't make sense. Maybe you're reading something else!
D to the R
#6 Posted by D to the R on 26 Apr 2016 at 16:34 PM
First they said ' folk are falling oot windy's' so they restricted opening windows. Then they said 'folk are freeezin' so they wrapped buildings in plastic bags .... now their saying 'hold on - i need to open and windows and i cannae breath?!?!' Our (The British) response to reactive not proactive .... what do the BRE say about future housing? Why aren't they influencing the regulations?
Walt Disney
#7 Posted by Walt Disney on 27 Apr 2016 at 15:38 PM
To an extent I agree about the benefits of MVHR, but then again this is my job. I would know the benifits and how to use it. I know of many examples where people were complaining of mould in their cupboards and wardrobes and we found out that they'd swithced their MVHR systems off! There's not a lot you can do with a human interface issue!

If you look at the Athlete's Village in Glasgow, most of these houses have an air tightness better than 3, with no trickle ventilation and MVHR. Interesting to see if people are opening windows and keeping the MVHR on.
#8 Posted by John on 28 Apr 2016 at 21:33 PM
This was commented on years ago, and I mean at least 10 years ago. VCL's everywhere, ever increasing air tightness and no proper ventilation equals living in a plastic bag. Stick one over your head for a few minutes and see how you feel.

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