Trane® provides homebuilders with the ventilation tools to meet indoor air quality standards.
By Janice Hoppe-Spiers
“Indoor air quality (IAQ) can be a crucial health factor,” says Jay Ayers, product manager for indoor air quality for Trane®, a leading global provider of indoor comfort solutions and services and a brand of Ingersoll Rand. “Ventilation is one of the hot buttons for builders today in terms of IAQ. Homeowners ask builders to make sure their homes are well ventilated. With new construction, the best solution is through dedicated systems that circulate fresh air ventilation from the outside.”
The proliferation of energy-efficient home construction allows less air exchange between the indoors and outdoors, and puts greater focus on ensuring IAQ. The ASHRAE standards for ventilation and indoor air quality were updated in 2013 to include major changes to the scope of the standard, including new requirements for determining minimum ventilation rates.
“Homes today don’t have the same amount of air exchange that homes of yesteryear did. This means the air inside a modern home can be exponentially worse than outside air due to indoor air pollutants,” Ayers explains. “The revision to the 2013 ASHRAE ventilation code includes changes that make mechanical ventilation even more important. Prior to this, homebuilders made the assumption there was ventilation coming through doors, windows or natural gaps in the house that would exchange enough air.”
Energy codes have resulted in tighter homes, which means builders can no longer assume natural leaks will exchange air in the home. Today, there are 31 states that require builders to abide by the national building codes. For the remainder, it becomes a local issue.
There is no single ventilation solution that is appropriate for all climates in the country or a one-size-fits-all solution. “It’s based on the size of the home and the number of occupants,” Ayers explains. “There is a standard formula to calculate the cubic feet per minute of air coming into a house continuously. There are different ways of doing this and different products that are the right fit for the right climate.”
Trane’s FreshEffects™ Energy Recovery Ventilator provides a whole-house solution for fresh air ventilation. “This solution has been available for several years,” Ayers notes. “It exhausts stale indoor air and brings in fresh, preconditioned, outdoor air. This results in a balanced approach to ventilation, and is the preferred method for higher-end homes.”
When looking for lower cost solutions, some builders use exhaust fans on timers to exhaust indoor air to meet ventilation requirements. The disadvantage to this approach is that it is not controlled, and there is no way to mitigate undesirable air from locations like the attic or crawl space into the house.
To address this, Trane is introducing a series of inline ventilation solutions that meet the new code standards, and can control the amount of humidity entering the home as well as lock out high or low temperatures. The company recently re-introduced its CleanEffects™ Air cleaning system that is the first whole home air filtration system to earn the “asthma & allergy friendly®” certification. This summer, Trane plans to introduce a new feature to its TruComfort™ variable speed systems that help control humidify without adding a separate dehumidifier.
Trane relies heavily on research and development to continue to meet the needs of its customers. Ayers explained, “Besides temperature control, ventilation, filtration, and humidity control are important to keep houses comfortable.”