Inferring the as-built air permeability of new UK dwellings

Jenny Crawley (University College London Energy Institute, London, UK)
Phillip Biddulph (University College London Energy Institute, London, UK)
Jez Wingfield (University College London Energy Institute, London, UK)
Minnie Ashdown (University College London Energy Institute, London, UK)
Robert Lowe (University College London Energy Institute, London, UK)
Cliff Elwell (University College London Energy Institute, London, UK)

International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation

ISSN: 2398-4708

Publication date: 8 May 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Compulsory airtightness testing was introduced for new dwellings in England and Wales in 2006 and in Scotland in 2010 to ensure that they are constructed according to design air permeability targets. These targets are set to limit heat loss through air infiltration. Previous work examining the large Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association (ATTMA) data set of UK airtightness test data suggested that, in a proportion of dwellings, the targets were being met by post-completion sealing as opposed to airtight construction, but did not quantify the prevalence of this practice. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, the distribution of as-built airtightness and the proportion of dwellings undergoing post-completion sealing are estimated from the ATTMA data set covering 2015–2016. This is carried out by Bayesian statistical modelling, using the data set of recorded test results and a modelled representation of the testing process.

Findings

This analysis finds the mode of the as-built distribution of air permeability as 4.38 ± 0.01 m3/m2h. It predicts that 39 per cent of dwellings aiming for one of the five most common design targets have sealing interventions at the point of pressure testing to meet their target. The as-built distribution of the ATTMA data is compared to airtightness test data obtained from just before compulsory testing was introduced, showing an improvement in the modal air permeability of 3.6 m3/m2h since testing became mandatory.

Originality/value

This paper has investigated the available data beyond simply what is reported, to estimate what the real levels of airtightness in the UK new build stock may be.

Keywords

Citation

Crawley, J., Biddulph, P., Wingfield, J., Ashdown, M., Lowe, R. and Elwell, C. (2019), "Inferring the as-built air permeability of new UK dwellings", International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJBPA-02-2019-0018

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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