Estimation of Natural Ventilation Rates in an Office Room with 145 mm-Diameter Circular Openings Using the Occupant-Generated Tracer-Gas Method

Hyeonji Seol*, Daniel Arztmann, Naree Kim, A. Balderrama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Natural ventilation in a building is an effective way to achieve acceptable indoor air quality. Ventilation dilutes contaminants such as bioeffluents generated by occupants, substances emitted from building materials, and the water vapor generated by occupants’ activities. In a building that requires heating and cooling, adequate ventilation is crucial to minimize energy consumption while maintaining healthy indoor air quality. However, measuring the actual magnitude of the natural ventilation rate, including infiltration through the building envelope and airflow through the building openings, is not always feasible. Although international and national standards suggested the required ventilation rates to maintain acceptable indoor air quality in buildings, they did not offer action plans to achieve or evaluate those design ventilation rates in buildings in use. In this study, the occupant-generated carbon dioxide (CO2) tracer gas decay method was applied to estimate the ventilation rates in an office room in Seoul, South Korea, from summer to winter. Using the method, real-time ventilation rates can be calculated by monitoring indoor and outdoor CO2 concentrations without injecting a tracer gas. For natural ventilation in the test room, 145 mm-diameter circular openings on the fixed glass were used. As a result, first, the indoor CO2 concentrations were used as an indicator to evaluate how much the indoor air quality deteriorated when all the windows were closed in an occupied office room compared to the international standards for indoor air quality. Moreover, we found out that the estimated ventilation rates varied depending on various environmental conditions, even with the same openings for natural ventilation. Considering the indoor and outdoor temperature differences and outdoor wind speeds as the main factors influencing the ventilation rates, we analyzed how they affected the ventilation rates in the different seasons of South Korea. When the wind speeds were calm, less than 2 m/s, the temperature difference played as a factor that influenced the estimated ventilation rates. On the other hand, when the temperature differences were low, less than 3 °C, the wind speed was the primary factor. This study raises awareness about the risk of poor indoor air quality in office rooms that could lead to health problems or unpleasant working environments. This study presents an example of estimating the ventilation rates in an existing building. By using the presented method, the ventilation rate in an existing building can be simply estimated while using the building as usual, and appropriate ventilation strategies for the building can be determined to maintain the desired indoor air quality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9892
Number of pages25
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • natural ventilation
  • occupant-generated CO2 tracer gasmethod
  • ventilation rates
  • infiltration rates

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