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Applying the CO2 concentration decay tracer gas method in long-term monitoring campaigns in occupied homes: identifying appropriate unoccupied periods and decay periods

Jessica Few (UCL Energy Institute, London, UK)
Clifford A. Elwell (UCL Energy Institute, London, UK)

International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation

ISSN: 2398-4708

Article publication date: 18 October 2021

Issue publication date: 8 March 2023

204

Abstract

Purpose

Ventilation is driven by weather conditions, occupant actions and mechanical ventilation, and so can be highly variable. This paper reports on the development of two analysis algorithms designed to facilitate investigation of ventilation in occupied homes over time.

Design/methodology/approach

These algorithms facilitate application of the CO2 concentration decay tracer gas technique. The first algorithm identifies occupied periods. The second identifies periods of decaying CO2 concentration which can be assumed to meet the assumptions required for analysis.

Findings

The algorithms were successfully applied in four occupied dwellings, giving over 100 ventilation measurements during a six-month period for three flats. The specific implementation of the decay identification algorithm had important ramifications for the ventilation rates measured, highlighting the importance of interrogating the way that appropriate periods for analysis are identified.

Practical implications

The analysis algorithms provide robust, reliable and repeatable identification of CO2 decay periods appropriate for ventilation rate analysis. The algorithms were coded in Python, and these have been made available via GitHub. As well as supporting future CO2 tracer gas experiments, the algorithms could be adapted to different purposes, including the use of other tracer gases or exploring occupant exposure to indoor air pollution.

Originality/value

Empirical investigations of ventilation in occupied dwellings rarely aim to investigate the variability of ventilation. This paper reports on analysis methods which can be used to address this gap in the empirical evidence.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was made possible by support from the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Demand (LoLo), grant numbers EP/L01517X/1 and EP/H009612/1.

The UTH data for this paper were collected using the Loughborough Matched Pair of 1930s semi-detached test houses which are operated by the Building Energy Research Group (BERG) in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering at Loughborough University.

Citation

Few, J. and Elwell, C.A. (2023), "Applying the CO2 concentration decay tracer gas method in long-term monitoring campaigns in occupied homes: identifying appropriate unoccupied periods and decay periods", International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation, Vol. 41 No. 1, pp. 96-108. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJBPA-05-2021-0077

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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