Paul Francisco – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Ventilation and IAQ

Air Date: 2-17-2017|Episode 448                                                                                Listen|Download

This week on IAQ Radio we welcome Paul Francisco. Paul Francisco runs the Indoor Climate Research & Training group at the Applied Research Institute of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign…

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This week on IAQ Radio we welcome Paul Francisco. Paul Francisco runs the Indoor Climate Research & Training group at the Applied Research Institute of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He does both research & training on issues related to home performance. His research focuses on indoor air quality and energy efficiency, emphasizing field measurements. His training focuses on teaching practitioners building diagnostics and health & safety. Paul has also been a trainer in Building Diagnostics for the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program. He has done extensive work on curriculum development for weatherization workers and does research on energy efficiency and indoor air quality issues in existing homes. He aims to be a bridge between research and practice. He is also the current chair of ASHRAE’s Standard 62.2, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Residential Buildings. Mr. Francisco has a BSME from the University of Delaware and an MSME University of Washington.

Z-Man’s Blog:

Doing. Doing no harm while doing good.

Paul Francisco, who runs the Indoor Climate Research & Training Group at the Applied Research Institute of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was our guest on today’s episode of IAQradio. He both researches and trains on issues relating to home performance.
Nuggets mined from today’s episode:
Paul researches the interaction between energy efficiency and indoor air quality with the emphasis on improving both without sacrificing either.
Air sealing and other weatherization measures may increase radon levels indoors. It’s important to avoid doing harm.
Is installing ventilation really beneficial?
Expenditures for weatherization funded by DOE must meet ASHRAE 62.2 with the costs allocated to the health and safety budget. Adherence to new version of the ASHRAE standard is required within1 year of publication.
Radon
The EPA action level for radon is 4 pCi/L. In 2010, a national evaluation of 500 homes was done on the effect of weatherization on radon levels. The findings were that weatherization generally increased preexisting radon levels by .4 pCi/L. A study in18 homes with elevated levels after weatherization demonstrated a reduction of radon levels when ASHRAE 62.2 ventilation rates were met. Air sealing and other weatherization strategies change the airflow dynamics within homes. Further study of current practices shows ground cover and sealing sump pump are effective radon reduction tactics.
Radon measurements are taken on the lowest living levels of the home, first floor and basement /crawl space if the property has one.
Radon mitigation systems were not added to the homes in the study.
Sub slab radon mitigation systems may also remove some moisture from basements through cracks, crevices and leaks.
At the juncture. Bringing healthy home principles and building science together. Very supportive of home performance professionals adding IAQ consulting to their repertoire. Chronic health problems, asthma, respiratory issues can be improved and potential accidents (slips, falls & trips) reduced by findings of a knowledgeable and experienced inspector. Gave an example of a finding a bird’s nest in an HVAC cold air return.
Universities and states working together on improving energy efficiency is rare. The DOE | Interstate Renewable Energy Council develops curriculum and job task analysis and the Building Performance Institute develops standards and exams for home performance.

Research to Practice
62.2 2010 or not?
Ventilation works.
Studied 80 homes in Chicagoland area and Indiana for VOCs, RH, formaldehyde, radon, CO² and CO. Lower radon levels of Chicagoland homes is attributed to lake effect. Ventilation has a beneficial effect on contaminate reduction indoors (formaldehyde is an exception). We can’t entirely rid a home of PM2.5 and formaldehyde.

The association between dampness and health is stronger than mold evidence in home and health.

Sensitive individuals should step outside when their home is being blower door tested.

Duct sealing supply ductwork is important in attics or vented crawlspaces and huge in heating dominant climates. In cooling dominant climates sealing the return ductwork is important where attic temperatures around ducts reach 140°F. There is anecdotal acceptance that duct leakage has an adverse effect on IEQ. Duct leakage is the major cause of gas appliance backdrafts.
Supply duct leakage of 10% = 20% waste of energy. Duct sealing is often the single biggest energy improvement tactic. Duct leakage can result in pulling contaminants from one room to another, drawing contaminants in from outside.

Strongly opined that panned ductwork should be recalled. Panned ductwork is extremely leaky, 20%-30% is common. Mastic is his preferred product for duct sealing.

Regarding public criticism over the “bang for the buck” afforded by weatherization, 70% of the claimed savings is realistic.

Changes in 62.2 over the past 6 years.
Removed the default infiltration value, it now must be measured with blower door.
For properties 4 stories and higher, ASHRAE 62.1 for the common areas and ASHRAE 62.2 in the apartments regardless of the number of units.
Clarified intent of readily accessible controls, movement away from on/off switch to labeled circuit breaker on the electrical panel. System should only be shut down for maintenance. Increased airflow in kitchens without range hoods in new construction. Recognize the challenges and costs of retrofitting.
62.2 is not part of the fundamental building code, it is part of the “to do” program.
62.2 is under a process of continual improvement.
Advocates making 62.2 simpler to understand and follow.
62.2 is a hot topic in hot and humid climates where it could potentially lead to issues. Vinyl wallcovering is bad with exhaust only ventilation. Not just with moisture; particles, VOCs and radon.
In hot climates it may be necessary to add dehumidification.
Options exist within 62.2, be smart. Consider what would be best for the home

Roundup
Exhaust only ventilation effectively removes contaminates, but you don’t know where the replacement air is coming from.
Balanced ventilation is the gold standard. Balanced ventilation is very expensive to retrofit.
Exhaust the bad stuff before it becomes a problem.
Future of 62.2- improve the multi-family section. Over the long-term focus on specific problem contaminates with a tailored approach.
Smarter automatic ventilation controls.
Balance costs, 62.2 is an IAQ standard not an energy standard.
Suggests people take time to understand their own home.
It’s a young quickly evolving science.

RadioJoe thanked Paul for his volunteer service on ASHRAE

Z-Man signing off
Trivia:
What is the common thread among: NFL Hall of Famers Reg Grange, George Halas, Dick Butkus and Playboy Magazine publisher Hugh Hefner?

Answer:
They all are alumni of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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