REHVA Journal – January
and ductwork airtightness represents a key challenge
for the building sector.
Rémi Carrié and Peter Wouters
Guest editors, AIVC/INIVE
The 2002 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) already
indicated the potential importance of airtightness.
With the 2010 EPBD recast and its ambitious 2020 targets, there is even more
pressure on these aspects since for most European climates and countries, good
envelope and ductwork airtightness levels are
necessary to achieve nearly zero-energy buildings.
studies report an energy impact of leaky buildings on the order of
10 kWh per m² of floor area per year for the heating needs in a
moderately cold region (2 500 degree-days) and 0 to 5 kWh/m²/year for
the ducts plus the additional fan energy use. There is
a growing number of studies showing the significant impact of building and
ductwork leakage in hot and mild climates as well. The general consensus from
these studies is that attention must be paid to building and ductwork airtightness in nearly all climate regions of the European
Union to meet nearly zero-energy targets.
How do we
achieve this in practice? First of all, building and ductwork airtightness has to be seen as a part of the building
system. Legitimate concerns for energy efficient ventilation, comfort, skills
development and market uptake must be considered in a holistic approach,
addressing both new and existing buildings. There are promising signals with
regard to the measures taken in several Member States to encourage better
building and ductwork airtightness. For example,
there are over 10 countries, covering all climate regions of Europe, with
active (and usually very active) networks of professionals specialized in airtightness issues. Also, the steps taken by some Member
States to improve building and ductwork airtightness,
including actions on regulation, financial incentives, training, control and awareness
raising, look promising.
the TightVent Europe platform (www.tightvent.eu)
was launched with a strong focus on market change in airtightness.
The large number of attendees at the two last AIVC-TightVent
conferences, as well as the large range of countries and issues addressed
during these conferences, linking airtightness,
comfort, indoor air quality and market transformation, show the growing
interest in this topic.
AIVC-TightVent conference, held in Copenhagen,
included three tracks specifically focussed on airtightness,
ventilative cooling, and indoor air quality and
health. As can be seen from the summaries presented in this issue, as well as
from the initiatives presented by experts from various Member States, the route
towards nearly zero-energy buildings has many challenges, but it is also a
unique opportunity to investigate new paths for product development,
construction methods, commissioning, and building operations. To seize this
opportunity, the building sector needs to be both creative and reactive:
sharing experience and knowledge is surely key to meet