Have you ever experienced that warm breeze of air as you enter a shopping mall? Did you ever struggle with opening doors in big buildings? Have you ever noticed drafts near windows at the office? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have experienced the impacts of differential pressure first hand.
Differential pressure is the difference in air pressure between two different places. It is what causes drafts in buildings and even the wind. For a more in depth explanation, you can read more about it here.
2. What is Airthings Balance for Business?
Airthings Balance for Business is a differential pressure sensor that allows you to better understand and control the airflow in your building. All buildings are considered ‘leaky’. However, unlike a leaky pipe, where you can see the damage it is causing, having a leaky building could lead to an unseen problem. When we say buildings are leaky, we mean that they are not 100% airtight. They let air leak out, and therefore waste energy. In addition to the air that is moved when you open and close external doors, air is constantly moving in and out of the building, often through drafty windows or cracks in the foundation. By measuring the differential pressure in your building, Balance for Business can help you monitor air flow, reduce energy loss, and save your business money.
3. Why should we care about differential pressure?
Differential pressure may seem innocuous but in reality it could be costing you money and wasting energy in the process. This is especially true when buildings aren’t airtight. According to a study done in Sweden1, the lack of airtightness can have a number of negative effects, with the most important being increased energy consumption, decreased comfort and air quality, and damage caused by moisture.
Energy use and sustainability
Buildings are responsible for almost 50% of global electricity use2 and 30% of carbon emissions3. According to MIT, reducing air leakage had the biggest impact on reducing life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of buildings4. Not only is wasting energy heating and cooling air that is leaking out of your building bad for the environment, it is also costing you more money. Therefore, preventing leaks helps to both balance your building and your budget.
Temperature stability and comfort
Maintaining a stable temperature in a building is crucial for the comfort of its occupants. Often, it is the change in temperature rather than the actual room temperature that causes us to change the thermostat. This is part of the reason drafts can be so detrimental to the comfort and also energy consumption in buildings. Lowering the thermostat by just 1 degree C can reduce annual electricity use by 16TWh and cut energy consumption of around 10%5.
People sometimes worry that these types of changes would make the indoor environment less habitable for those inside. However, comfort is more about perceived temperature and air movement than the actual air temperature itself6. Temperature stability and draft can be a problem in all building types, but it is especially difficult to control in areas with many doors or windows that open and close a lot, think of your local mall.
By helping to reduce the flow of cold air in and warm air out in the winter, the indoor temperature will stay more steady, reducing the need for increasing that thermostat, again saving money and the environment.
As a facility manager, balancing your building will help mitigate tenant complaints by improving the indoor environment. This is another way Balance for Business can help you save money by reducing the hours needed to deal with unhappy customers and also increasing the comfort of your tenants will increase the likelihood of continued business7.
Building health and longevity
Moisture damage, increased fire risk, mold growth, and ground radon. These are all problems that can be caused or exacerbated by differential pressure. If you have ever experienced the delicious aroma of pizza wafting into your office from the downstairs restaurant, you can understand how leakiness in buildings allow air to travel between floors. Not only does this lack of airtightness have the potential to annoy tenants who might not enjoy the smells of their neighbor’s cooking, but it could also illustrate another potential danger. Although many buildings are designed to prevent fire from spreading from apartment to apartment or floor to floor, lack of airtightness can aid the spread of fire, even in buildings that are up to code9.
Just as air can flow out of leaks, dangerous gases, such as radon and VOCs, can flow into buildings through similar cracks. Water vapor can also enter the building, getting trapped in walls, causing moisture damage and leading to the development of mold and mildew10. This can cause serious damage to the integrity of your building.
Get in touch to learn more about how the Airthings for Business solution can help balance your building.