Building Scientist Wins Best Paper Award

Pie Consulting & Engineering Engineer Brian Erickson received the Best Paper Award of 2008 for coauthoring an article on ventilation and fluid dynamics in the academic journal, International Journal of Building Simulation, titled “Evaluation of Ventilation Code Requirements for Building Crawl Spaces.” The recognition was made by the publication’s editorial board. Erickson’s paper looked at building ventilation code requirements for crawl spaces from 1937 to the present.

In particular, the study examined the current building ventilation code requirements for at-grade and below-grade crawl spaces using computational fluid dynamic (CFD) software with experimental inputs. The research first tested the soil moisture evaporation rate from two monitored crawl spaces in Colorado, USA, which produced an average moisture load of 13.75 grains/(ft2·h) (9.6g/(m2·h)) and a maximum moisture load of 42.7 grains/(ft2·h) (29.8g/(m2·h)). The identified soil moisture evaporation rates aligned well in magnitude with those recorded in the literature, supporting the estimation method used.

The experiment revealed that plastic ground cover can effectively reduce the moisture load from the soil by an average of 93%. The study subsequently developed a CFD model of the monitored crawl spaces to assess the necessity and effectiveness of various ventilation code requirements. Through field pressurization testing and CFD analysis, it was determined that the effective leakage area from the crawl space to the exterior was approximately 0.26 in2/ft2 of floor area. The CFD predictions (validated with measured data) verify that the building code requirements for at-grade crawl spaces appear sufficient, but have limitations for below-grade crawl spaces. Sealed crawl spaces perform better in humid climates (supporting previous research), and mechanical ventilation is justified for below-grade crawl spaces only. The paper suggests revisions to the current building code in regards to below-grade under floor spaces.

The paper can be downloaded from:

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