Published On: Fri, Jan 22nd, 2021

Embracing the topic of ventilation

With the importance of healthy air clearer than ever, Adrian Vicker of
Siegenia urges the window market not to shy away from the topic of ventilation

With people spending increasing time indoors as we head through autumn and into winter, the topic of ventilation in terms of halting the spread of COVID-19 is gaining traction. We hope that the increased restrictions will only last a few weeks but when they are lifted, sufficient ventilation in enclosed spaces will be key to keeping inhabitants safe and in inspiring confidence in potential visitors. And the fenestration industry can play its part in this topic.

Why is ventilation so important? Last month the Environmental and Modelling Group (EMG) presented a report to SAGE stating that: “Ventilation is an important factor in mitigating against the risk of far-field (>2m) aerosol transmission” and that “providing the ventilation rate remains the same, increasing the occupancy of a space increases the probability of airborne transmission by four fold.” It is therefore clear that providing an adequate supply of fresh air as the room occupancy increases is an important additional measure to mask wearing and social distancing.

There has also been advice that single room fresh air ventilation should be preferred to centralised systems that merely move the stale air from room to room. According to the Chartered Institution of Building Engineers’ (CIBSE) response to the health crisis: “Recirculation of air between spaces, rooms or zones occupied by different people should be avoided”.

How is this relevant to the window market? With single room fresh air supply being cited as a helpful health measure, windows are the obvious first point of call for natural ventilation. This presents an opportunity to talk to partners and customers about the benefits of higher end window systems. Tilt and turn is an ideal option as by design the window can also be left open in the rain for natural ventilation. Furthermore, PAS24 level security can be maintained even when tilt and turn windows are in the vent position if high quality fittings, such as Siegenia Titan vent secure, are deployed.

Another option to consider, both in terms of the current health situation and futureproofing, is automated opening. We have seen the increased popularity of home automation over the last few years, and for those so inclined what better way to ensure regular, adequate ventilation than by setting windows to timers or reminders on a smartphone, or networking these with an air quality sensor for automatic opening when the quality drops below a certain level.

Why installers should consider adding mechanical ventilation units to their portfolio – Offering ventilation solutions has always been a great way to complement the air tightness and energy efficiency that your quality windows provide with a means of still bringing fresh air in. And now this is more of a selling point than ever.

Centralised systems requiring complex ducting are often the first that come to mind in terms of ventilation systems. However, as mentioned above, these are not in fact the ideal solutions for the current climate but rather single room systems. And there are such systems available which would be relatively simple for installers to add to their product portfolios as they are through-the-wall ventilation systems so quick to install, saving time and money both for you and the end customer.

There is also no need to sacrifice the heat performance your windows achieve as there are single room ventilation units available that offer heat recovery, known as SRHR or single room heat recovery units. Our Aerotube WRG, for example, has an industry best 90% efficient integral heat exchanger, this controls heat losses whilst providing optimum room ventilation by way of air extract and supply as opposed to traditional fans that simply extract.

The current situation has brought the often neglected topic of ventilation into stark focus. While the home improvement market remains comparatively robust, innovative installers can use the opportunity to add value to their offering by educating customers and upselling tilt and turn, automated opening and SRHR systems for natural and mechanical ventilation solutions.