Mikael Boulic
Massey University

Using various ventilation methods to achieve a suitable airflow rate in New Zealand and Australian residential buildings: modelling approach and monitoring validation  

An appropriate ventilation rate is needed to provide residential building occupants with a healthy environment. The New Zealand Building Code and the Australian National Construction Code require residential buildings to have appropriate ventilation of spaces. Both codes state that sufficient ventilation should be provided by "the window, opening, door of not less than five per cent of the room's floor area". A mechanical ventilation system will be required where five per cent of the floor area of openable windows cannot be met. However, the 2015 New Zealand House Condition Survey reports that only 39 of the 560 studied houses (seven per cent) had mechanical ventilation installed, mainly due to capital costs. Achieving a suitable ventilation level will rely on occupants to open windows if mechanical ventilation is not present.

Further research showed that occupants are not opening windows, and newly built residential buildings are more airtight than those built a few decades ago. As mechanical ventilation is seldom installed, and occupants are not opening windows, there is a need to investigate alternative low-cost ventilation solutions (smart windows, shape-memory alloy on trickle vents) to assist occupants in ventilating their homes.

In this project, we propose a two-phase approach. Phase 1 (modelling approach) will investigate a few suitable ventilation solutions in standalone dwellings and apartments using ScStream computational fluid dynamics software. In the second phase, we would like to deploy indoor air quality sensors in a few selected residential buildings to validate the modelling approach (Phase 2).  

About Boulic:
Boulic’s area of expertise is focused on the interface of building technology and public health. He led a number of intervention studies to investigate the relationship between domestic heaters, ventilation, and the level of pollutants (mould, bacteria, chemicals and moisture) in homes and classrooms. These studies strongly sympathised with vulnerable communities, with low-income, Māori and Pasifika communities being particularly at risk through a higher disease burden. He led the development of a low-cost IAQ monitoring platform.