Commercial Air Pressure Testing

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Commercial Air Pressure Testing

We can provide UKAS accredited air leakage testing as required by Approved Document L2 of The Building Regulations for new build and existing commercial buildings (i.e. non-domestic properties). Our team of experienced engineers are dedicated to giving our customers the best quality of service and offer advice where possible to help in achieving the required results for building completion.

What is Air Leakage Testing?

Air leakage testing (also known as airtightness testing, air pressure testing, or air permeability testing) is a method to measure the uncontrolled flow of air through the envelope via gaps, cracks and holes etc. Air leakage relates directly to the energy efficiency of a building as any heated/conditioned air leaking from a building requires additional energy to maintain the temperature within. By limiting the air leakage it is possible to reduce energy consumption and costs.

Why is an Air Leakage Test Required?

Gaps and cracks in the building fabric are often difficult to detect by visual inspection therefore the only satisfactory way to show the building fabric is reasonably airtight is to measure the leakiness of the building fabric as a whole.

The production of energy emits carbon and there has been shown to be a direct link between carbon emissions and global warming (climate change). According to the Committee on Climate Change’s 2012 report, emissions from buildings account for 37% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and a significant part of buildings emissions are related to space heating. The Government has made commitments to reduce CO2 emissions and their methods for addressing the conservation of fuel and power in buildings is outlined by The Building Regulations Approved Document L.

What does an air pressure test involve?

As a UKAS accredited company and members of ATTMA (The Air Tightness Testing and Measurement Association), Soundtesting.co.uk Ltd engineers follow strict testing procedures using UKAS calibrated equipment. The envelope area will be measured, taking into account the total internal surface area of the building, including all floors walls and ceilings of the conditioned (heated/cooled) areas. A UKAS calibrated fan and measuring equipment is installed in the external door and used to measure the air flow. The air permeability is then calculated using the pressure difference between inside and outside of the building, and the air flow rate between the fan(s) to produce that pressure difference. The results are to comply with the Design Air Permeability (DAP) as defined by the Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM) calculation.

What is Design Air Permeability (DAP)?

The DAP is the target figure determined at the design stage or calculated as part of the SBEM calculation. Air permeability is the physical property used to measure airtightness of the building fabric. It is defined as air leakage rate per hour per square meter of envelope area at a test reference pressure across the building envelope of 50 Pascals (m3/(h.m2)@50Pa)).

What is SBEM?

SBEM stands for Simplified Building Energy Model, and it is the governments required method to assess energy in non-residential buildings. These calculations are incredibly important as they are used to prove that the building conforms to the regulations laid down in Building Regulations Approved Document L2A. It does this by comparing the designed Building Emission Rate (BER), with the Target Emission Rate (TER).

Essentially, SBEM calculations are like SAP calculations, but for non-residential premises. They calculate the amount of energy used by a building, through such things as heating, air conditioning and lighting, as well as the amount of carbon dioxide the building emits, before then assigning the building a rating between 1 and 100. The closer to 100 the rating is, the more energy efficient the building is deemed to be.

What is The Target CO2 Emission Rate (TER)?

The Target CO2 Emission Rate (TER) is the minimum energy performance requirement for a new building and is expressed in terms of mass of CO2 emitted per year per square meter of the total useful floor area of the building. The TER is calculated as part of the Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM).

Which buildings need to be tested?

The Building Regulations Approved Document L2A 2013 requires all non-domestic buildings over 500m2 useful floor area to be tested. Extensions to existing buildings are also considered new build if they are over 100m2 and are greater than 25% of the total useful floor area, and as such need to be tested.

What happens if a test fails?

We can provide on-site remedial advice using our experience to locate areas of leakage. Our engineers may sometimes use smoke pens and smoke machines for the more difficult areas of air leakage detection. Depending on the severity of the issue and works required, retests can usually be carried out during the same visit once issues are rectified (if in a reasonable time frame) by the contractor on site. If the key issues cannot be rectified on the day then we would re-schedule another test for once all remedial works are complete.

What can I do to help ensure all tests pass first time?

Here at Soundtesting.co.uk Ltd, where possible, we work with our clients to ensure their buildings pass the air leakage test first time. We can offer design advice and sample testing to give an indication of the performance of your building(s). It is important to ensure that key areas of potential air leakage are addressed and that our pre-start checklist is used prior to any testing.

What stage of development should testing be carried out?

Air leakage testing may be conducted when the building is completed but no electrical or mechanical systems installed but may also need testing again once these systems are installed. It is important that the air barrier is complete and any penetrations are sealed. We can provide a checklist to help you determine if your development is sufficiently completed.

Speak to our experts

0800 917 1471

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