The Significance of Increased Air Supply in Buildings: A Closer Look at Pros, Cons, and Standards

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As buildings become more energy-efficient and sealed, the quality and quantity of air supply become vital. Adequate ventilation plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy indoor environment. This article will delve into why increased air supply is essential in buildings, its advantages and drawbacks, and how these requirements are defined and regulated by ASHRAE 62.1 and LEED.

Why is Increased Air Supply Important?

Increased air supply ensures adequate fresh air in a building, diluting indoor air pollutants and reducing the risk of Sick Building Syndrome—a condition affecting building occupants, usually characterized by headaches and respiratory problems, attributed to unhealthy or stressful factors in the working environment such as poor ventilation.

The benefits of increased air supply are many:

  1. Improved Air Quality: An increased supply of outdoor air reduces the concentration of pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulates, and biological contaminants, enhancing indoor air quality.
  2. Enhanced Occupant Comfort and Health: Better ventilation minimizes odors, reduces potential allergen concentration, and lowers the risk of airborne disease transmission.
  3. Increased Cognitive Function: Studies suggest that higher ventilation rates positively impact cognitive function, leading to increased productivity in workspaces.

However, increased air supply can also have a few drawbacks:

  1. Higher Energy Consumption: More outside air means more air to heat or cool, leading to increased energy use.
  2. Increased Maintenance: HVAC systems may require more frequent maintenance due to increased airflow, which could lead to higher upkeep costs.

Ventilation Requirements as per ASHRAE 62.1

ASHRAE Standard 62.1, “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality,” sets minimum ventilation rates and other measures intended to provide indoor air that is acceptable to human occupants and that minimizes adverse health effects.

For mechanically ventilated buildings, there is a requirement to exceed outdoor air supply rates described in the ventilation guidelines listed in Feature A03 Part 1 by the percentages shown in the table below:


LEED Compliance Requirements

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a widely used green building rating system. To meet LEED requirements, projects must achieve a certain number of points across multiple categories, including Indoor Environmental Quality, which covers increased air supply.

While the exact LEED requirements depend on the specific version of the rating system being used, generally, LEED promotes increased ventilation rates that exceed the minimum levels set by ASHRAE 62.1. Projects that increase ventilation by 30% can earn points towards LEED certification.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, while increased air supply comes with its set of challenges, such as higher energy consumption and maintenance, the benefits to occupant health, comfort, and productivity are significant. Adhering to standards such as ASHRAE 62.1 and striving for LEED certification can help buildings strike the right balance between energy efficiency and superior indoor air quality.

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