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Project Info ACTIVE Project Title

Smart Ventilation Retrofit Demonstration Project

Project Number ET24SWE0015 Organization SWE (Statewide Electric ETP) End-use HVAC Sector Residential Project Year(s) N/A - 2025
Mechanical ventilation is becoming more prevalent due to Indoor Air quality (IAQ) concerns, particularly as construction trends move towards tighter envelopes to increase efficiency. Yet there is a tension between providing ventilation to ensure good IAQ and reducing the energy and demand impacts of this ventilation. This project investigates “smart ventilation” systems that have sensors to track pollutants and automate ventilation systems to address IAQ. These systems reduce energy use by only operating ventilation equipment when needed. Smart ventilation systems include apps that provide the user with an app-based interface, tracking and logging IAQ along with run time presented on an easy-to-understand graphic display. Customers can use this feedback to improve the air quality in their home.  In addition, because many residents forget to turn on smart ventilation systems, automated demand-based controls activate systems when needed rather than relying on activation by the user. Poor ventilation can increase concentrations of pollutants such as NO2 and PM2.5, and both pollutants can contribute to asthma[1]. High humidity combined with poor ventilation can drive increased pollutant levels, increasing the risk of asthma symptoms[2]. The importance of ventilation is even greater for low-income households, as asthma rates can be higher among low-income residents[3].  In addition, ventilation is important to reduce pollution from smoking and second-hand smoke, and smoking rates among adults receiving federal housing assistance are almost twice the rate of the general population[4]. Smart ventilation is a promising, emerging technology that can provide good IAQ with minimal energy and demand impacts. Our general approach to the study involves these tactics: Retrofit multifamily dwelling units with smart ventilation products that sense pollutant concentrations and automate ventilation systems accordingly. Conduct energy metering to measure ventilation energy use and demand impacts. Collect IAQ data to measure key pollutant levels. Report IAQ trends along with energy usage trends and feedback from residents through an electronic survey   The overall objective of the project is to demonstrate that improved IAQ in households can be achieved through a “smart ventilation” approach while also minimizing ventilation energy use. [1] The Links Between Air Pollution and Childhood Asthma | US EPA [2] INDOOR DAMPNESS AND ASTHMA - Clearing the Air - NCBI Bookshelf ( [3] ​​American Lung Association. 2018. Current Asthma Demographics. [4] ​Hernández, Diana, et al. 2019. "Insights on the social contract of smoke-free housing policy in affordable housing settings."
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The ETCC is funded in part by ratepayer dollars and the California Statewide Emerging Technologies Program under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. The municipal portion of this program is funded and administered by Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.