A parliamentary white paper for healthy homes and buildings released last year, claimed the effects of poor housing in the UK on the NHS is estimated to cost £2.5 billion per annum! The PCA appreciates that provision of adequate ventilation is fundamental to providing a healthy indoor environment.
Guidance on ventilation in existing buildings unclear
The current Approved Document F gives guidance in relation to the provision of Ventilation in new and existing “Dwellings” and “Buildings other than Dwellings”. Whilst in the main, the current Approved Document F gives clear guidance on what ventilation measures may be provided in new build Dwellings, the guidance on existing buildings is less clear cut.
Not enough focus on alternative ventilation systems
Perhaps the only significant shortcoming of the guidance in relation to new build dwellings, is that there is too much focus on Systems 1-4. With no real focus on the use of alternative forms of widely and effectively used ventilation equipment, and systems which operate differently to Systems 1-4, this potentially inhibits innovation and new approaches to the management of indoor air. The guidance in the current Approved Document F can be used for existing dwellings where the following conditions exist in and information is available for an existing home, as follows:
- It has no existing controlled ventilation
- Its air permeability rate is known or can be accurately assessed
- It is constructed throughout to standards comparable with new build
- It is occupied as per the house design
- It has typical moisture and indoor pollutant production levels
However, in the context of the existing housing stock these criteria are seldom met and this makes the document difficult to use and implement.
Understanding ventilation in existing buildings is key
Furthermore, where mechanical ventilation is present in existing homes it can be a mixture of different systems or there may be a desire to introduce different systems. Guidance on how these “hybrid” systems can meet the building regulations would assist installers in ensuring that ventilation meets the expected minimum requirements of the building regulations. Those that specify ventilation in existing dwellings must have an understanding of the special requirements of existing buildings and be able to demonstrate that they are competent to undertake this work.
Residential Ventilation Group tackles lack of guidance
The PCA has over 400 members who between them, visit thousands of existing homes each year which are suffering the consequences of poor ventilation. It is rare, if ever, that they will survey a property where all the above conditions exist and information is available. They are then essentially left to use their knowledge and experience to come up with a retrofit solution. We have addressed this lack of regulatory guidance by establishing the Residential Ventilation Group and running a number of training courses covering the surveying, design, application, installation, commissioning and notification of ventilation in existing homes.
Approved Document F aimed at ventilation in new homes
There are an estimated 25-27 million homes in the UK and we build new ones at the rate of only around 180-200,000 per year. The vast majority of ventilation equipment goes into solving ventilation related problems in existing homes, yet most of the guidance in Approved Document F relates to the relatively small number of new builds per year.
Engagement needed to address ventilation issues
The PCA strongly believes that the time is now right for the Government to immediately engage with those in industry, such as ourselves, who have members with real world practical experience in addressing ventilation related problems in existing homes with all the different types of ventilation technologies.
As a matter of urgency we urge the Government to proceed with the revision to ensure there is greater coverage of ventilation in existing dwellings.
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