Evaluation of Ventilation Strategies in New Construction Multifamily Buildings

Stacey Rothgeb, S. Maxwell, D. Berger, M. Zuluaga, S. Puttagunta

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


In multifamily buildings, particularly in the Northeast, exhaust ventilation strategies are the norm as a means of meeting both local exhaust and whole-unit mechanical ventilation rates. The issue of where the 'fresh' air is coming from is gaining significance as air-tightness standards for enclosures become more stringent, and the 'normal leakage paths through the building envelope' disappear. CARB researchers have found that the majority of high performance, new construction, multifamily housing in the Northeast use one of four general strategies for ventilation: continuous exhaust only with no designated supply or make-up air source, continuous exhaust with ducted make-up air to apartments, continuous exhaust with supply through a make-up air device integral to the unit HVAC, and continuous exhaust with supply through a passive inlet device, such as a trickle vent. Insufficient information is available to designers on how these various systems are best applied. Product performance data are based on laboratory tests, and the assumption is that products will perform similarly in the field. Proper application involves matching expected performance at expected building pressures, but there is no guarantee that those conditions will exist consistently in the finished building. This research effort, which included several weeks of building pressure monitoring, sought to provide field validation of system performance. The performance of four substantially different strategies for providing make-up air to apartments was evaluated.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages87
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB), Norwalk, Connecticut

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-5500-62313

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102014-4451


  • apartments
  • Building America
  • cold climate
  • ducted supply ventilation
  • exhaust ventilation
  • make-up air
  • mechanical ventilation
  • multifamily
  • Northeast
  • passive inlet devices
  • PTAC
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • trickle vents
  • whole-house ventilation


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of Ventilation Strategies in New Construction Multifamily Buildings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this