CHICAGO — Building codes are continuously growing stricter, focusing greatly on efficiency. A factor that plays a large role in meeting these building codes is proper mechanical ventilation and, in particular, its ability to create comfortable living conditions.
In order to provide the introduction of fresh air into multifamily structures to meet building and energy codes, Aprilaire, a division of Research Products Corp., designed the 8144NC, a fresh air ventilator that satisfies the mechanical ventilation requirements of Energy Star; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indoor airPLUS, version 1; and the 2012 and 2015 International Residential Code (IRC).
BREATH OF FRESH AIRE
According to Newsweek, “Every year, air pollution causes the premature deaths of between 5.5 million and 7 million people, making it deadlier than traffic accidents and diabetes combined. The majority of these deaths — about 4 million — are caused by indoor air pollution.”
And, because new construction is building commercial spaces tighter, there is a growing need for whole-home ventilation.
“As building codes become tighter, requiring mechanical ventilation, stop and think, ‘Why are you requiring ventilation in multifamily or single-family structures?’” said Christopher Chase, product marketing manager, Aprilaire. “They [commercial builders] are making the living space tighter because they don’t want to require more energy to condition the air.”
With that being said, commercial contractors are looking for a product that meets building and energy codes and also provides comfortable conditions for occupants and tenants.
“The 8144NC was specifically designed for multifamily new construction,” said Chase. “As the construction building codes get tighter, they are requiring mechanical ventilation, and, until now, there hasn’t been a viable solution consisting of all the components in one unit; it’s been an assortment of filters, blowers, dampers, and all that. So, what the 8144 does is it combines an onboard fan, damper, filter, and fan speed controller.”
Chase noted in multifamily new construction, contractors have to keep in mind that they can’t rely on tenants to run the bath and kitchen fans, so introducing a little bit of outside air helps to reduce the opportunity for excess humidity to form inside the a/c unit.
Commercial construction jobs aren’t easy, often requiring installs in tight and cramped conditions, which is why the 8144NC was designed for smaller quarters.
“Aprilaire has been on the leading edge of supply ventilation product development designed for use in new construction,” said Joseph Hillenmeyer, marketing content specialist, Aprilaire, in a press release. “The 8144NC continues that tradition with a compact design that provides for versatile installation. The 8144NC is perfect for mechanical closets, drop ceilings, and fur-down chases, all commonly found in multifamily construction.”
When asked what makes this fresh air ventilator easier to install for contractors, Chase commented that it is quick and easy to figure out, which also makes it easy when having to install multiple units.
“All they need to do is wire it up, set it to required airflow, and we have information on how they can set it using a flow hood or a meter with the two hoses on either end,” he said. “Remember, these guys are doing these big apartment units, so you may be doing ten installs a day for four, five days or more than that. If you have to be able to install and set it up quickly and then move on to the next installation, this unit makes it easy to do so.”
Because continuous airflow is necessary to meeting new multifamily building codes and standards, Hillenmeyer said the 8144NC helps avoid humidity issues that would occur in commercial buildings if the bathroom and kitchen fans were the primary source of distributing fresh air.
“With today’s building standards for tight construction, single-point, or ‘spot’ ventilation, is not the answer to the growing need for whole-home ventilation,” he said. “Exhaust fans in bathrooms and over kitchen ranges do not properly condition or distribute fresh air — they simply exhaust stale air and create a negative pressure environment. Outside air is pulled in through the building envelope instead of efficiently delivered through the HVAC system.”
In addition, Chase noted that while some commercial contractors turn to caulk and insulation to conserve energy costs during tight construction, in the end, they’re doing themselves a disservice.
“They’re making the living space tighter because they don’t want to require more energy to condition the air,” he said. “Some say, ‘Insulate, make it tight, and caulk everything.’ Well, that does a great job of conserving energy, but unfortunately, it also does a wonderful job of trapping moisture inside the living space. That is where outdoor air comes in as a means of removing humidity. That is why commercial contractors are doing it [installing fresh air ventilators]; that is the benefit. Otherwise, why would you do it? Why wouldn’t you put in cool countertops and appliances? That is what drives the new ventilation market in new construction.”
Publication date: 2/26/2018