SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1995

A Study of Ventilation Measurement in an Office Building


The National Institute of Standards and Technology has conducted a study of ventilation and ventilation measurement techniques in the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Building in Portland, Oregon. The project involved the use of the following outdoor air ventilation measurement techniques: tracer gas decay measurements of whole-building air change rates, the determination of air change rates based on peak carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, the determination of percent outdoor air intake using tracer gas (sulfur hexafluoride and occupant-generated CO2), and direct airflow rate measurements within the air handling system. In addition, air change rate measurements made approximately three years apart with an automated tracer gas decay system were compared. Airflow rates were measured in the air handling system ductwork using pitot tube, hot-wire anemometer, and vane anemometer traverses, and good agreement was obtained between the different techniques. While accurate determinations of percent outdoor air intake were achieved using tracer gas techniques, the use of CO2 detector tubes yielded unreliable results. Reliable determinations of ventilation rates per person were made based on SF6 decay and direct airflow rate measurements, but the use of peak CO2 concentrations led to overestimations of building air change rates. The measured values of the whole-building air change rates, and their dependence on outdoor air temperature, did not change significantly over a three-year period. The whole-building air change rate under minimum outdoor air intake conditions was determined to be twice the outdoor air intake rate provided by the minimum outdoor air intake fans due to leakage through the main outdoor air intake dampers.

Author Information

Dols, WS
Building and Fire Research Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD
Persily, AK
Building and Fire Research Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD
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Developed by Committee: E06
Pages: 23–46
DOI: 10.1520/STP14687S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5310-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2023-5