UCL Energy Institute


UCL Energy academics win award for their paper on airtightness and ventilation strategies

5 August 2020

Researchers from the UCL Energy Institute have won the Napier Shaw Bronze Medal, awarded by CIBSE for the most notable paper exciting the greatest global interest published in Building Services Research and Technology (BSER&T) Journal during 2019.

Grey building exterior with multiple windows

The paper, entitled 'The relationship between airtightness and ventilation in new UK dwellings' was published in BSER&T in 2019. Its authors were Dr Jenny Crawley (lead author), Dr Jez Wingfield and Dr Cliff Elwell.

Their research used the UK’s largest airtightness test dataset to explore the relationship between designed air permeability and ventilation. This revealed that dwellings with mechanical ventilation and heat recovery (MVHR) installed are designed only slightly more airtight than traditional naturally ventilated dwellings. These design choices likely often lead to homes with MVHR being too leaky, and naturally ventilated homes not providing enough fresh air.

They proposed that coupling air tightness design with a ventilation strategy could reduce a home’s energy demand, supporting achieving the required energy performance and lead to better indoor air quality and a healthier indoor environment.

UCL Energy Institute Research Associate Dr Crawley said:

We are very happy to have been awarded this medal by CIBSE, and pleased that this research can be useful to the construction industry. Our approach was to use a big dataset to find out how new homes are really being designed. We found that there has been a missed opportunity to maximise the benefits of the energy efficiency and ventilation strategies that can be corrected quite simply – by considering them together. We lay out a straightforward way of doing this and encourage building regulation to incorporate it. This should lead to lower CO2 emissions and better air quality in new homes.”

The Napier Shaw Bronze Medal is awarded annually by CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) to celebrate notable research carried out to advance the knowledge and art of building services engineering. It is presented to the highest rated research paper of the year, that has been published in BSER&T, CIBSE’s peer reviewed Journal for building services related research.