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E.Vent - Efficient, affordable and maintenance-friendly centralized mechanical ventilation systems for multifamily buildings – planning, operation and fire protection

Based on practical experience from realized mechanical ventilation systems as well as results from previous projects new tasks for improvement have been identified in the fields of planning, balance-tuning of the air volume and fire protection. The project aims at offering innovative technical solutions and planning tools for the installation of new, but also low-maintenance operation of existing systems.

Previous and ongoing projects investigating ventilation concepts for energy efficient construction and refurbishment (e.g. low_vent.com, SINFONIA) have shown that more research is needed to optimize cost efficient realization and operation of centralized ventilation systems. Indeed, because of the increased complexity and costs due to required fire protection measures (e.g. the installation and periodic maintenance of numerous fire protection flaps), building projects that could clearly benefit from the advantages of central ventilation systems (typically more space in the apartments, better sound insulation etc.) are often realized with sub-optimal ventilation solutions due to the lack of cost-effective, replicable and approved fire protection concepts.

The other crucial issue in the operation of central ventilation systems is related to flow control. The actual heat recovery efficiency of a ventilation unit can significantly decrease during operation compared to the measured values on the test bench, if the balance between supply and extract air volume flow is not continuously ensured. Such a flow disbalance can lead to further negative consequences, such as building damage, odor transfer between apartment units and comfort reduction.

The objective of this project is therefore to provide innovative solutions to ensure fire safety and provide continuous flow balance for centralized ventilation systems. Novel concepts for new installations and for retrofitting existing systems (in terms of flow balance) will be developed, evaluated and tested in practice. The reduction of costs related to investment, installation and operation is the main focus within this work. Beside technological and conceptual solutions, planning recommendations and guidelines to support the design of efficient central ventilation system will be delivered.

After a first analysis of the of the typically applied fire protection concepts as well as of the actual disbalance in existing installations through numerous field measurements, the optimization potential will be identified and specific solutions will be defined. Exemplary cost-effective fire protection concepts, which have already received approval in individual cases will be documented and adapted accordingly for their general implementation in other projects. At the same time, technological solutions for an optimized flow balance control will be developed for new and existing (retrofit) ventilation systems. Potential synergies with fire safety measures will be investigated and functional examples combining flow balance control and smoke barrier will be mocked up and tested.

Based on the results, this project will deliver online available planning recommendations in order to support architects and planners in the integrated design of a central ventilation system into a building. Algorithms which characterize space requirement, airflow rate and pressure drop during the early design-phase will be developed and implemented in a 3D graphic tool. The developed fire protection concepts will be implemented on real buildings and documented. Additionally, a comprehensive analysis including life cycle costs and maintenance plans for central ventilation systems in multi-storey housing will provide a reliable comparison basis to other ventilation strategies.

Project manager

DI Armin Knotzer


Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Innovation und Technologie (BMVIT) im Rahmen des Programms Stadt der Zukunft www.bmvit.gv.at


Universität Innsbruck, Institut für Konstruktion und Materialwissenschaften, Arbeitsbereich Energieeffizientes Bauen www.uibk.ac.at/bauphysik

Project partner

Passivhaus Institut, Standort Innsbruck www.phi-ibk.at
Alpsolar Klimadesign OG www.alpsolar.com
Neue Heimat Tirol www.neueheimattirol.at
GWS Gemeinnützige Alpenländische Gesellschaft für Wohnungsbau und Siedlungswesen m.b.H.
Innsbrucker Immobilien GmbH & CoKG www.iig.at
J. Pichler Gesellschaft m.b.H. www.pichlerluft.at