Apartment-Level Ventilation

A graphic representation of how pressure drop across a ventilation system affects flowrate

Research performed by Steven Winter Associates, Camroden Associates, and Tohn Environmental Strategies for the National Center for Healthy Housing

Key Takeaways

  • Coordinate ventilation upgrades with air sealing to limit resident disruption.
  • Target low (but still code-compliant) continuous exhaust ventilation rates for proper air quality and energy efficiency.
  • Verify exhaust airflow for all exhaust grills in at least 20 percent of the units.

Executive Summary

Well-ventilated buildings are less likely to experience odor or moisture or mold issues that are unhealthy and can trigger tenant complaints. Living in damp or moldy environments has been linked to increased risks of breathing problems, such as asthma. One strategy for multifamily building ventilation is to individually exhaust each apartment with its own self-contained system. This design concept is appealing because the single fan and single outdoor vent termination minimizes cost and complexity. From an efficiency standpoint, ENERGY STAR inline fans are available that use approximately 50 percent of the electricity as typical rooftop “mushroom” fans. It is also important to note that these apartment fans are usually tied to the meters in individual apartments, meaning residents are billed for their usage, while mushroom roof fans are tied to the owner-paid common area meter. This fact-sheet provides suggestions for system layout, air sealing targets, produce specification, contracting with vendors, and maintenance strategies. The research was performed by Steven Winter Associates, Camroden Associates, and Tohn Environmental Strategies, and was made possible by the National Center for Healthy Housing.

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