To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Characterising the airtightness of dwellings: Its improvement over time and relationship to construction technique

Minnie M.A. Ashdown (University College London Energy Institute, London, UK)
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)
Robert Lowe (University College London Energy Institute, London, UK)
Clifford A. Elwell (University College London Energy Institute, London, UK)

International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation

ISSN: 2398-4708

Article publication date: 15 July 2019

Issue publication date: 20 January 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the distribution of dwelling airtightness test results for a developer, between 2007 and 2011. The changes in airtightness test results over time are discussed, and links between the airtightness test results and the construction technique are investigated.

Design/methodology/approach

A data set of airtightness test results was statistically analysed by applying probabilistic model of the distribution and using Bayesian parameter estimation techniques.

Findings

The inferred background distributions, those estimated to describe dwelling performance before secondary sealing, suggest an improvement in airtightness between 2008 and 2011, the mode decreases from 5.46±0.09 m3/m2h to 4.12±0.07 m3/m2h with a corresponding shift in practice towards a more target-driven approach. The most airtight dwellings are constructed from reinforced concrete frame, followed by “traditional” (dry lined masonry), timber frame and lightweight steel frame.

Research limitations/implications

This study is limited by the size of the available data set (901 dwellings), and by the fact that the data set contains a larger proportion of flats to houses; however, the metadata has enabled the exploration of the link between construction practices and airtightness.

Practical implications

Developers need better guidance surrounding how to meet more stringent airtightness requirements through improvements to the primary air barrier, with incentives and support to deliver changes in practice. Furthermore, if a large number of dwellings undergo secondary sealing, this may have implications for the long-term efficiency of the dwelling stock.

Originality/value

This analysis investigates two issues that have not previously been studied on a significant number of dwellings: the changes to the distribution of airtightness results over time and the link between construction methods and airtightness.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the EPSRC London-Loughborough Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Demand under EP/H009612/1, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded “Research Councils UK (RCUK) Centre for Energy Epidemiology” under EP/K011839/1. The authors are grateful to ATTMA for provision of the ATTMA data set.

Citation

Ashdown, M.M.A., Crawley, J., Biddulph, P., Wingfield, J., Lowe, R. and Elwell, C.A. (2020), "Characterising the airtightness of dwellings: Its improvement over time and relationship to construction technique", International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 89-106. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJBPA-02-2019-0024

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited