Electrical Contracting News (ECN) August 2016 - Page 39

HVAC SPECIAL FEATURE (VOCs) in the air were above the recommended level. ‘As new and refurbished homes become ever more airtight, the number of people suffering with asthma could almost double as a result,’ says Ian Mitchell, product marketing manager for newbuild residential at Vent-Axia. ’Current building regulations could also increase indoor pollutant levels equivalent to the upper end of – and in some cases well above – World Health Organisation recommended limits.’ Ventilation The most widely recognised technologies for dealing with the issue of poor air quality are whole house mechanical extract ventilation (MEV) and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR). A well designed system replaces contaminants with clean fresh air, and with the heat recovery it is also possible to keep over 90 per cent of the heat that would have been lost due to ventilation alone. Yet despite the UK ventilation and air conditioning sector experiencing growth of four per cent in 2014, according to AMA Research, installations of MEV and MVHR have been relatively slow to catch on. The British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association (BEAMA) has been working closely with NICEIC and industry leading manufacturers to highlight this issue. ‘Currently, only two per cent of the UK have mechanical ventilation systems installed throughout their homes, which is concerning,’ says BEAMA marketing director Kelly Butler. ‘We are aiming to ensure that housebuilders consider ventilation and indoor air quality at design stage rather than as a late add-on to specifications.’ Growing regulatory pressure means things are starting to change. ‘Specifiers, developers, engineers and self-builders alike need to achieve even lower Dwelling Emission Rate (DER) scores and greater Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) ratings for new properties,’ points out Jon Hill, technical manager at Polypipe Ventilation. Case in point But it’s vital any installation of such systems is carried out by qualified professionals; a message NICEIC is actively promoting. Quite simply, the quality of installations across the industry can often leave a lot to be desired and there is a widespread lack of awareness about the importance of system design. Kent based Terry Baker Electrical Contractors saw the potential of MVHR in its infancy and has since completed many installations. ‘These need to be airtight systems and any leak will make the machine work harder,’ says Richard Baker, the company’s contracts manager. ‘It is also important to take care when positioning the valves – the easiest position is not always the best. Inlet valves need to be put to the furthest position away from the door in the room to get a greater flow of air. Additionally, all modern machines need a yearly filter change and some sooner, depending on the location.’ “ AS WELL AS POTENTIALLY DAMAGING THE FABRIC OF THE BUILDING ITSELF, A LACK OF PROPER VENTILATION CAN LEAD TO A BUILD-UP OF CONTAMINANTS Accuracy and attention to detail is vital, stresses Bates. ‘If ducts are carelessly installed it could lead to leakage and resistance to airflow, which would have an impact on the effectiveness of the ventilation,’ he says. ‘The over use of flexible ducting is also a key reason why systems do not meet design requirements, as it should only be used in very short lengths.’ The most widely recognised technologies for dealing with the issue of poor air quality are MEV and MVHR. The good news is that the cowboys who jumped on the bandwagon to make a quick buck are being weeded out. Now there are some really good companies out there fitting MVHR systems – something that requires a trained person to do the job properly to protect the people in the property and the fabric of the building. As awareness of the issue of air quality in homes grows, we can expect to hear more about toxic home syndrome and the dangers it poses. It is up to the electrical contracting sector to play its part in ensuring ventilation systems are not only specified, but installed correctly as well. Standard practice It’s also important to use products that are able to perform to the highest standards. Vent-Axia’s Mitchell points out that the new Energy related Products (ErP) Directive, which came into force in January 2016, requires MVHR producers to meet minimum technology requirements. ‘These include an indication of the ventilation unit status that must be visible to the homeowner,’ he adds. It is estimated that there are now more than 30,000 MVHR installations a year in the UK, and The Zero Carbon Hub VIAQ Task Group believes it will become the dominant form of ventilation in most new homes post-2016. This means that there are opportunities for electrical contractors to get involved, but those who neglect to undertake the correct training and skills development in this area won’t last long. ‘MVHR is going to be a big part of the building industry in the future,’ predicts Baker. 39 38-39 HVAC – NICEIC.indd 39 18/07/2016 10:39