Pushing ventilation up the agenda

It is less than two months now until the new Approved Documents for Part F and Part L of the Building Regulations come into force. Here, Steve Mongan, Head of Marketing at Xpelair Ventilation Solutions, looks specifically at the implications of the revisions to Part F and the impact this will have on the building services industry.

From 1 October, further changes to Part F and Part L of the Building Regulations will come into force as the Government once again continues its drive towards a low carbon economy. The new documents provide a framework for change that runs alongside the Code for Sustainable Homes. At Xpelair, we believe these changes are another welcome development in continuing to increase the efficiency of the UK’s building stock.

Changes to Part L 2010 will dictate that carbon emission levels will have to be cut by another 25% compared to 2006 levels. This means that buildings will become even more airtight and better insulated, pushing the importance of ventilation further up the agenda.

The implications of Part F

Part F ensures the provision of adequate ventilation for buildings, whilst minimising energy use and the problems of noise and thermal discomfort.

The key change is going to be greater ventilation provisions for buildings with design air permeability tighter than or equal to 5m³h/sq m at 50Pa. Ventilation systems will now become a ‘controlled installation’ which will improve the installation and commissioning of ventilation systems so they perform to design specifications with the introduction of the new Domestic Ventilation Installation and Commissioning Compliance Guide.

This will include all systems (both natural and mechanical) being inspected and commissioned, air-flow measurements for mechanical ventilation in new dwellings made on-site and a checklist to be completed by a competent person and given to the building control body as evidence that everything has been carried out correctly.

Other revisions include the requirement for continuously running systems to be type-tested to ensure they meet specified noise limits. Sufficient information about the system and how to maintain it effectively to ensure adequate airflow will also need to be provided to the end-user.

What impact will this have?

Overall, the impact of Part F 2010, coupled with SAP calculations, is pushing the market towards whole house ventilation systems. Traditional intermittent fans for bathrooms, toilets, kitchens and utility rooms are being replaced by these whole house solutions based on their energy efficiency and higher performance characteristics.

Whilst this market shift is obviously great news in helping to improve the efficiency of the UK’s building stock, it does come with its own learning curve. We all know that installing a ventilation system is a specialist area and this has been heightened by the fact that whole house systems are more complicated to install than the intermittent products.

Therefore, if the transition into systems ventilation is going to be as smooth, it is important these solutions are specified and installed correctly. This means designing the right system for the application to make sure it delivers the required performance levels, saves energy and complies with building regulations.

Once the system has been specified, Xpelair recommend using rigid ducting for as much of the duct route as possible and only use flexible ducting for final connections. Rigid ducting has a lower resistance than flexible duct and can therefore guarantee a smoother airflow.

The duct layout also needs to be planned carefully. The avoidance of unnecessary bends will achieve better results and maintain the system’s efficiency. It is also essential to fasten and tape joints on the ducting to ensure an airtight seal. Fixing the ducts securely will ensure the system performs inline with the design drawings. It’s crucial not to rush the connections or fabricate components not suitable for the transfer of air to prevent and minimise leakage.

Support and advice

At Xpelair, we understand that every project is different, particularly in the commercial or industrial arena. This makes designing a solution that takes advantage of the design and orientation of a building essential to maximise end-user benefits.

Therefore, to add value to the service we provide, we have a specialist team of technical engineers that work in conjunction with building service engineers. We can assist you every step of the way, from the pre-planning design stages right through to installation and commissioning, to ensure that our systems perform as designed.

Backing this up is Xpelair’s manufacturing expertise. We have an extensive range of whole house ventilation solutions available, including Mechanical Extract Ventilation (MEV) and Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR), which are suitable for domestic and commercial applications and carry the CarbonLite symbol. CarbonLite utilises UltraDC and UltraEC technology to significantly lower energy use and extend motor life to reduce whole life costs for a building service engineer.

Innovation for schools

Another development we are particularly proud of is our new Classmate solution – a completely innovative system that is set to raise the bar for low energy ventilation, heating and cooling.

Classmate is specifically designed for school building projects and is a state-of-the-art mixed-mode ventilation system which controls the learning environment by automatically reacting to CO2 levels, room occupancies and seasonal and daytime temperatures to maintain optimum indoor air quality.

Operated via a combination of CO2, temperature and time controls, Classmate features industry leading acoustic performance, minimises energy input and reduces carbon emissions by use of passive ventilation only for CO2 control. Summer cooling ventilation is provided by low energy EC fans and heating by LTHW coils and controls.

Control panels allow users to select appropriate ventilation options for each individual classroom. As a result, lower carbon emissions can reduce the school’s energy costs by up to 40% compared with conventional systems.

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