Reducing leakage paths within a building’s envelope ensures that warmed (or cooled) air is not lost to the outdoor environment, wasting energy.
The easiest time to ensure that the building fabric is airtight as practically possible is during construction, when remedial action can be taken if necessary.
Conventionally, buildings are only tested for airtightness at the building completion stage, which is often too late for any significant intervention.
Testing traditionally involves closing intended openings and pressurising the building envelope by means of a large fan within an external doorway. This process is neither simple nor quick to implement and requires trained technicians.
Conversely, the new University of Nottingham’s device (see picture above) enables quick checks (<1min) by generating and analysing a low pressure pulse from an autonomous unit that doesn’t penetrate the building envelope.
A robust unit, suitable for construction sites, is being developed for integration into the Built2Spec Virtual Construction Management Platform.
It will provide a portable and easy to use solution, where construction workers can undertake airtightness assessments themselves.
I have been involved in using the pulse unit for testing the air permeability of our construction sites. My initial reaction to the unit was how simple it was to use; I have successfully trained others in using the unit to carry out testing. I look forward to the day that the pulse unit will be readily available on construction sites; it would greatly help projects with achieving designed energy performance. (A. Thompson, Lakehouse)