Ventilation with Central Exhaust

A photo of an exhaust fan on the roof of a NYC building

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

Key Takeaways

  • Target low (but still code-compliant) continuous exhaust ventilation rates for proper air quality and energy efficiency
  • Owners should specify performance-based contracts with vendors
  • A comprehensive strategy to address both duct sealing and in-unit ventilation can minimize labor costs and tenant disruptions.

Executive Summary

Field experience suggests that many central ventilation systems do not perform as intended, with significant consequences for indoor air quality and energy. Owners of multifamily housing should make sure their ventilation systems are operational and well-maintained to provide a healthier living environment to their residents. This report provides strategies for improving those systems. Dwellings with ventilation improvements were found to have significantly lower relative humidity, carbon dioxide, and formaldehyde levels. Regardless of level of ventilation improvement, dwellings were drier and less musty and residents experienced fewer sinus and ear infections. This 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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