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Where Does Your Fresh Air Come From?

This week’s post is going to be a short one…really just an announcement of sorts.  But it comes with a preamble.  Here it is…

Have you ever thought about where the fresh air in your home comes from?  If your windows and doors are closed, how are you getting fresh air and expelling stale air?  If you live in an older home, air seeps in through cracks and crevices in your building envelope.  While envelope leakage is detrimental in terms of energy efficiency and possibly occupant comfort (for example, if your home is drafty), in fact, air infiltration can be helpful in terms of indoor air quality.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at

But if you live in a new home, whose envelope is airtight, you run the risk of trapping toxins inside your home if you don’t have an explicit means of refreshing the air.  What do I mean by toxins?  I described it in detail in an earlier post.   In a nutshell, toxins find their way in on the bottoms of your shoes (dirt, fertilizers, etc.), as a byproduct of cooking and combustion appliances (like your fireplace), from your furnishings (carpeting, sofa cushions and other furnishings may release volatile organic compounds – VOCs – into the air), and even from your cleaning supplies (check out my earlier article on green cleaning).

New homes – and those that have gone through deep energy retrofits that include air sealing measures – need to use balanced mechanical ventilation to bring fresh air inside and expel stale air to the outdoors.  Mechanical ventilation systems can run through existing ductwork or their own separate ducts (there are significant advantages to this latter design).  I’ll be writing about Sunset Green Home’s ComfoAir system by Zehnder in future articles (which will include installation photos as well). 

But for now, I’ll close with our announcement that we’re co-hosting a two-day workshop next week with Zehnder and Sunset Green Home's builder, Coastal Management, on ventilation systems for energy efficient homes.  The first day will include a three-hour classroom-style presentation on mechanical ventilation and system design.  The second day will be a three-hour installation demonstration at the Sunset Green Home site.  The event is free and open to the trade and industry professionals (CE credit available).  If you’re going to be on Long Island on Tuesday November 18th and Wednesday November 19th and are interested in participating, please send us an email at so we can forward the details to you.

Join us!  You’ll breathe easier if you know more about where your fresh air comes from.

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