Ventilation is something that Covid has made us all more aware of. Traditionally in our New Zealand Architecture we have relied on opening our windows to allow air to move through our indoor spaces. Our New Zealand Building Code still uses this as an acceptable solution. However, there is a fundamental and practical flaw in this design theory. When the wind is not blowing, we cannot use opening windows and doors to move fresh air through our indoor spaces in an adequate manner to ventilate our buildings to a healthy standard. Add to this, most of us close up our homes when out or at work, but ventilation needs to take place regardless.

Why is ventilation important?

We breathe in oxygen rich air and breathe out carbon dioxide. If we do not ventilate our spaces, we start to run short of oxygenated air and our bodies start to fatigue. Ultimately breathing in lots of carbon dioxide poisons our bodies and we can suffer consequences in extreme situations. Getting fresh air is important.

It is important to remove undesirable smells and fumes, such as cooking smells and any fumes from toxic substances which may find their way into our homes.

Ventilation is the way we get fresh air and also the way we remove stale unpleasant air.

How does ventilation work?

When you listen to the weather report talking about high and low pressure, we understand that when we have high and low pressure systems close together, it is going to get windy. The same principal works in ventilation. Air moves from a place of positive to negative pressure as its aims to equalize pressure. This movement is what causes ventilation, able to move stale, moist and contaminated air out of a particular area and replacing it with fresher air.

This principal applies to both natural and mechanical ventilation.

Differences between Natural and Mechanical Ventilation

Natural ventilation occurs when wind blows up against a building creating positive pressure. As the building blocks the wind, the area which is sheltered on the opposite side becomes a place of negative pressure. When you open your windows on the positive and negative pressure sides, air moves from that positive pressure through your home to the area of negative pressure. This is great in principle, but the reality is it depends on the wind direction and the wind blowing to naturally ventilate our homes.

Mechanical ventilation works by controlling the inlet and outlets of a confined space, such as our homes. The system pumps clean air into our spaces which pressurizes the interior of our homes and extract outlets allow the older stale air to move out of the space to the more negative space outside. This system can work if we are supplying electricity to it. And as such enables us to ventilate our architecture regardless of the wind.


While there is so much more on this topic, I hope this touches on the need to ask your Architect or Architectural Designer about ventilation systems and how best to accommodate its installation and operation into the design of your home.

To book a complimentary call with Sharon to discuss your project click HERE

Architectural Design services for Waikato, Cambridge, Raglan, Hamilton, Morrinsville, Matamata and Te Awamutu.


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Offsite NZ Member    Licenced Building Practitioner    New Zealand Green Building Council Passive Designer Homestar Designer
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