Building Codes Still Lag Behind Home Ventilation Needs
By: Jen Anesi
Most states have yet to adopt the most current residential building codes. And, while current residential
model building codes require higher ventilation rates and energy-efficiency requirements than ever
before, they still lag behind commercial codes.
“You don’t have universal code acceptance like you do on the commercial side, and there’s no universal
acceptance of ASHRAE Standard 62.2 in any of the codes,” said Drake Erbe, chair of ASHRAE Standard
90.1 and vice president of market development at Airxchange Inc. “So, while you might have 62.2-2001,
you don’t have the most current version being adopted.”
Still, increasingly demanding standards and regulations are having a clear impact on the energy efficiency
and effectiveness of products used in residential ventilation and air movement, including fans, dampers,
blowers, and energy recovery units.
Motor Energy Upgrades
Megan Leick, spokesperson for Aprilaire, said increased standards have resulted in improved motor
efficiency in recent years.
“ASHRAE 62.2 is changing, and in some states, the IECC [International Energy Conservation Code]
energy efficiency, 2.8 cfm per watt, is becoming code,” Leick said. “In those states, the blower motor
must meet that efficiency. Now, there is a choice to use an ECM with the HVAC furnace and small air
handlers fans, making them more energy efficient.”
“Low-cost, poorly performing fans are being coded out nationally,” agreed Ken Nelson, Northwest
regional sales manager at Panasonic Eco Solutions North America. “The fan market, as a whole, is getting
more efficient and quiet. This rising tide even has Panasonic raising its bar of efficiency. We continue to
redefine what WhisperQuiet means — Panasonic fans are truly whisper quiet.”
Jalena Pfister, spokesperson for Continental Fan Mfg. Inc., agreed that lower-cost, noisy fans are going
away. “They have become more efficient and quieter,” she said. “HVI [Home Ventilating Institute] and
Energy Star requirements have driven this, and ASHRAE 62.2 is driving more efficient fans and controls
to meet the requirement.”
Matt Menard, market manager, air conditioning, ebm-papst Inc., said the company has a simple
philosophy: “Every new product designed must be economically and ecologically superior to its
predecessor. “We strive to make our products more efficient while reducing the acoustics in every new
generation of product,” he said. “At the heart of our ecologically friendly products is our award-winning
electronically commutated (EC) technology integrated into the electric motors. ECMs and fans can be
easily controlled, are maintenance-free, offer outstanding efficiency, and have a considerably long service
Pat Nielsen, marketing manager, balanced ventilation system, Broan-NuTone LLC, said fans are also
becoming easier to install.
“We are focused on helping our contractor customers save time and money,” he said. “The new
ULTRA™ Pro fan, for example, can be installed in minutes with no attic access because of its unique
telescoping mounting frame, which can collapse together to fit through drywall openings and then expand
once above the ceiling.”
Another trend Erbe noted is the move toward whole-home ventilation, especially in new homes or homes
that have been sealed. He added that energy recovery is becoming a bigger part of ventilation on the
residential side, especially in new homes.
“When you have whole-house ventilation in a tight environment, you need energy recovery,” he said.
“You need to bring in the outside air to lower the level of all the pollutants simultaneously, then you need
to be able to use that airstream to transfer the energy, then let it exhaust out. Just the idea of bringing
something in, treating it, and throwing it back out — that’s going to use energy, not save energy.”
Jay T. Ayers, geothermal and IAQ product manager, HVAC residential North America, Ingersoll Rand,
agreed that “some form of controlled ventilation will be required in all residential construction when the
standard is adopted into state and local building codes.” He added that the FreshEffects™ air filtration
system from Trane, a brand of Ingersoll Rand, accomplishes that task.
“A system like this exchanges a small amount of indoor air with outdoor air and recovers about 80
percent of the sensible heat transfer and mitigates latent heat transfer at the same time,” Ayers said.
“FreshEffects will meet the requirements of 62.2-2013 and only uses the energy equivalent of a couple of
100-watt light bulbs.”
Similarly, Aprilaire offers the Home Comfort Control™ (8620 and 8910), which provides “an
unprecedented opportunity to actively manage ventilation, as well as every other aspect of indoor air
quality throughout your home,” Leick said. “That includes air purity, humidity, and temperature — all
from one simple and easy-to-operate control.”
Carl Redner, president of General Filters Inc., said every home — especially new homes — needs
ventilation or air treatment equipment to remove odors, correct humidity, and address indoor pollution as
well as stale air.
“To keep windows open in these times is not reasonable due to weather conditions, safety concerns, and
noise,” he said. “Today’s homes are being built tighter and have greatly reduced, if not eliminated, the
natural exchange of inside air.”
Nielsen said tighter envelope construction has made ventilation and IAQ a higher priority than ever
before. “The International Residential Code (IRC) and International Mechanical Code (IMC) have
addressed the impact of airtight constructions on indoor air quality by adding make-up air regulations for
larger-volume kitchen range hoods,” he said. Nelson predicted “we’ll be seeing more balanced ventilation