Evaluation of Passive Vents in New Construction Multifamily Buildings

Sean Maxwell, David Berger, Marc Zuluaga, Stacey Rothgeb (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


Exhaust ventilation and corresponding outdoor air strategies are being implemented in high-performance new construction multifamily buildings to meet program or code requirements for improved indoor air quality, but a lack of clear design guidance is resulting in poor performance of these systems despite the best intentions of the programs or standards. CARB's 2014 'Evaluation of Ventilation Strategies in New Construction Multifamily Buildings' consistently demonstrated that commonly used outdoor air strategies are not performing as expected. Of the four strategies evaluated in 2014, the exhaust ventilation system that relied on outdoor air from a pressurized corridor was ruled out as a potential best practice due to its conflict with meeting requirements within most fire codes. Outdoor air that is ducted directly to the apartments was a strategy determined to have the highest likelihood of success, but with higher first costs and operating costs. Outdoor air through space conditioning systems was also determined to have good performance potential, with proper design and execution. The fourth strategy, passive systems, was identified as the least expensive option for providing outdoor air directly to apartments, with respect to both first costs and operating costs. However, little is known about how they actually perform in real-world conditions or how to implement them effectively. Based on the lack of data available on the performance of these low-cost systems and their frequent use in the high-performance building programs that require a provision for outdoor air, this research project sought to further evaluate the performance of passive vents.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages64
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings, Norwalk, Connecticut

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-5500-64758

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102016-4733


  • apartment ventilation
  • Building America
  • consortium for advanced residential buildings
  • exhaust ventilation
  • multifamily
  • passive ventilation
  • passive vents
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • Steven Winter Associates, Inc.
  • SWA
  • trickle vents


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