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Ventilation for Designing Better Buildings

Why High End Homes Need To Think Ventilation First

Posted by Shawna Henderson.

May 25, 2017 1:52:23 PM

Ventilation is part of a strategy to maintain a high quality indoor living environment. Your high end home should be adding to your quality of life, not increasing your chances of poor health. There are three elements to a good indoor air quality strategy: ventilate, eliminate and filtrate. A top quality ventilation unit, like a Zehnder HRV or ERV can take care of two of the elements: ventilation and filtration.

‘Eliminate’ is up to you and your builder, but here are some suggestions:

  • Specify pre-finished hardwood or ceramic instead of carpet or vinyl flooring
  • Require your painter to use no or low VOC paints
  • Edge seal cabinets and other furniture constructed from MDF (medium density fiberboard)

The material choices you make in your house reflect your style and personality, but they can also impact your health and the quality of your indoor living environment. It’s no secret that your aesthetic decisions can affect the value of your house when you sell it. For a growing segment of high-end buyers, a high quality indoor living environment, with ‘healthy’ materials that they can see, is also a strong selling feature.

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The five top reasons why high-end, high performance homes need to think “Ventilation First” are:

  • To remove excess humidity
  • To make a healthier indoor living environment
  • To reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies (hay fever)
  • To reduce exposure to Radon gas
  • To reduce the impact of chemical pollutants

High-performance houses have airtight building envelopes. Controlled whole-house ventilation is a cost-effective and energy efficient way to supply fresh air throughout the living area. One of the primary results of using a properly sized, well-designed ventilation system is to minimize or eliminate condensation that causes damage to home and have a negative effect on indoor air quality.

Humidity can happen throughout the year. Whenever there is a significant difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature, humidity can become a problem when it causes condensation inside the home, or within the actual structure of the house. When this happens in your house, problems with mold and mildew arise.

Mold and Mildew Can Trigger Respiratory Problems

Asthma and other respiratory problems can be triggered by damp and moldy conditions. Without adequate ventilation, an airtight, high-performance house can have high humidity levels, creating a breeding ground for dust mites and mold spores. A quality, whole-house ventilation system will extract the excess humidity and keep mold and mildew from forming.

Pollen is one of the major causes of seasonal allergies, which can be brought in through open windows. An effective ventilation system can filter out pollen and other large particles. A constant supply of filtered fresh air can help control these pollutants and result in improved health for seasonal allergies sufferers. Keeping the windows closed also helps ensure that your air conditioning system is running as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Other pollutants that can be diluted and filtered by a high quality HRV system include radon and chemical pollutants such as VOCs.

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that is found throughout the world. While it occurs naturally in all types of rocks and soils, it is most commonly found in areas where granite and other ‘igneous’ rocks make up a large part of the geography. It can become a health issue where air pressure differences between the interior of the house and the exterior create a vacuum effect and pull radon into the living space from the soil surrounding the basement or crawlpace.

We spend the majority of the hours of our lives inside. We also live and work in environments where there are far more chemical compounds in the air that can have negative health effects. One large group of gases is VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. You can’t see them, but you’ll know when they are there: most often, VOCs have a smell associated with them.

VOCs are found in paints and sealants, new carpets, upholstered products, and house cleaning products. When you’re indoors, and especially when you’re in a new, or newly renovated, house, VOC levels can be as much as 1,000 times higher than background outdoor levels! ‘Natural’ products can offgas, so if VOCs become a concern, choose unscented house cleaning, laundry and personal care products. When you are designing and planning your new home, renovation, or addition, choose finish materials that won’t offgas.

To ensure that your high-end home is able to maintain a good indoor living environment for your family, install high quality, effective ventilation. A whole-house, balanced ventilation system like Zehnder’s HRV systems brings in a constant stream of fresh filtered air to dilute and control a wide range of pollutants.

Ensure a high-quality indoor living environment in your new home by installing a high-quality Zehnder ventilation system.

Topics: Ventilation Strategies