By Dr Chris Iddon CEng MCIBSE – Natural Ventilation Design Manager with SE Controls

For centuries, windows have been the preferred and sometimes the only means of ventilating buildings to ensure that carbon dioxide, temperatures and pollutants can be vented and replenished by fresh air.

They remain an important part of the ventilation solution as windows can provide greater air flow rates and the capacity for purge ventilation required by Building Regulations ADF (for example to vent odours caused by spillages) and also the greater flow rates required for cooling during the warmer summer months, both during the day and as part of a night purge strategy.

Ensuring openable windows comply with Building regulations

Nevertheless, designers should be aware that any window upgrade undertaken as part of a building refurbishment or repurposing project that incorporates the replacement of high-level openable windows, must comply with Building Regulations Part K (Part N in Wales). They stipulate that window opening controls must be accessible and located no more than 1900mm above floor level (AFL) or 1700mm AFL, if obstructed.

Consequently, ordinary window handles on such high level vents do not meet building control requirements and alternative opening control methods should be considered. The regulations clearly specify that if the window controls cannot comply, then an alternative remote electrical or safe manual solution should be provided.

At SE Controls, we provide a range of solutions for the operation of high level windows; using push button operated electrical actuators, either stand-alone or linked to automatic indoor air quality monitors, such as our NVLogiQ system, or via a manual winding mechanism. We can also provide assistance to help designers specify the most appropriate solution.

Whatever method is used, windows still provide a simple, effective and economic route to air quality and temperature management, whilst allowing the all important ability for them to be controlled by building’s occupants.

Ventilation is not just about ensuring that fresh air can enter a building, but enabling contaminants to be removed, or at least diluted, to improve overall air quality. Although there are numerous methods of improving air quality, just opening a window is one of the easiest and most accessible, but it must be compliant.

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