Indoor-Outdoor Air Leakage of Apartments and Commercial Buildings

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We compiled and analyzed available data concerning indoor-outdoor air leakage rates and building leakiness parameters for commercial buildings and apartments. We analyzed the data, and reviewed the related literature, to determine the current state of knowledge of the statistical distribution of air exchange rates and related parameters for California buildings, and to identify significant gaps in the current knowledge and data. Very few data were found from California buildings, so we compiled data from other states and some other countries. Even when data from other developed countries were included, data were sparse and few conclusive statements were possible. Little systematic variation in building leakage with construction type, building activity type, height, size, or location within the u.s. was observed. Commercial buildings and apartments seem to be about twice as leaky as single-family houses, per unit of building envelope area. Although further work collecting and analyzing leakage data might be useful, we suggest that a more important issue may be the transport of pollutants between units in apartments and mixed-use buildings, an under-studied phenomenon that may expose occupants to high levels of pollutants such as tobacco smoke or dry cleaning fumes.

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