Final Report: Balancing energy conservation and occupant needs in ventilation rate standards for “Big Box” stores in California: predicted indoor air quality and energy consumption using a matrix of ventilation scenarios

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Through mass-balance modeling of various ventilation scenarios that might satisfy the ASHRAE 62.1 Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Procedure, we estimate indoor concentrations of contaminants of concern (COCs) in California "big box" stores, compare estimates to available thresholds, and for selected scenarios estimate differences in energy consumption. Findings are intended to inform decisions on adding performance-based approaches to ventilation rate (VR) standards for commercial buildings. Using multi-zone mass-balance models and available contaminant source rates, we estimated concentrations of 34 COCs for multiple ventilation scenarios: VRmin (0.04 cfm/ft2), VRmax (0.24 cfm/ft2), and VRmid (0.14 cfm/ft2). We compared COC concentrations with available health, olfactory, and irritant thresholds. We estimated building energy consumption at different VRs using a previously developed EnergyPlus model. VRmax did control all contaminants adequately, but VRmin did not, and VRmid did so only marginally. Air cleaning and local ventilation near strong sources both showed promise. Higher VRs increased indoor concentrations of outdoor air pollutants. Lowering VRs in big box stores in California from VRmax to VRmid would reduce total energy use by an estimated 6.6% and energy costs by 2.5%. Reducing the required VRs in California's big box stores could reduce energy use and costs, but poses challenges for health and comfort of occupants. Source removal, air cleaning, and local ventilation may be needed at reduced VRs, and even at current recommended VRs. Also, alternative ventilation strategies taking climate and season into account in ventilation schedules may provide greater energy cost savings than constant ventilation rates, while improving IAQ.

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