Challenges and Failures in Green Building Design Using Under-floor Air Distribution

Apr 02, 2012

The use of access floors with under floor air distribution (UFAD) systems in new buildings is nothing new; the theoretical benefits have been touted for many years. What was once a special design and construction project is now much more wide spread, and as a result owners, users, operators, designers, and contractors are seeing a system that is wholly new to them. Misconceptions of the system, resulting from discussions of the theoretical benefits with limited to no consideration of the challenges, are responsible for leading many down a path of significant strife and poor building performance.

This paper opens a window into the mind of someone who is in the cautiously optimistic category regarding UFAD and what it can bring a building owner, occupant, and operator. This paper is broken down into four key areas of discussion: access floor and UFAD overview; current challenges and failures with UFAD; steps to overcome said challenges and failures, i.e. what comes next; and finally a quick overview of several case studies demonstrating installed UFAD systems.

Under floor air distribution systems have a significant amount of potential to facilitate reduced energy consumption for a building, while simultaneously helping to create better indoor environmental quality resulting in significantly happier occupants. But without awareness, understanding, application, and mastery, these potential benefits cannot be realized.

Ken A. Urbanek (MKK Consulting Engineers, Inc.)
Presented at: 
Building Enclosure Science & Technology (BEST3) Conference
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
MKK Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Building Enclosure Technology & Environment Council (National Institute of Building Sciences)

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