Why air tightness test existing buildings?

I was down at the Centre for Alternative Technology  (CAT) last week doing some lecturing and running a practical on airtightness for their Architecture Professional Diploma  students and the MSc Sustainability and Adaptation course.

It was a great 2 days with loads of questions from the students – Prof Dip students on the Wednesday and MSc Students the following day. I also gave an evening lecture on ventilation and aspects of my research on the Wednesday evening – and an impromptu one on data logging case studies on the Thursday evening!

air tightness thermal imaging camera
Students using a thermal imaging camera to detect air ingress

The practical was titled Why air tightness test existing buildings? and the aim of the day was to answer the question! The students had hands-on experience with 4 different models of thermal imaging camera followed by the airtightness testing of one of the buildings on the CAT site, using a blower door and then examining the building defects using thermography and smoke.

airtightness testing smoke test
Using the smoke was more fun!

The calculations by students of the surface area and volume of the building proved interesting – there was around a 45% variation  between different calculations – that made a very significant difference to the test results!!!

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