Skip to content

Building owners urged to adapt smoke vents to cut costs

Roof Smoke ventilation photo

Adexsi UK is seeing increasing demand for its smoke ventilation products to be adapted to make them also suitable for more general natural ventilation purposes.
Many commercial buildings are obliged to install smoke ventilation systems to meet health and safety legislation. However, the industry has long argued for end users to extract greater benefit from these smoke vents systems by also adapting them to provide low cost natural ventilation that improves indoor air quality, reduces the threat of overheating and cuts carbon emissions.
In this way life safety smoke ventilation can also play an important role in the day-to-day operation of commercial facilities as well as being ready to respond in the event of a fire.
Retail premises, in particular, are legally required to use smoke ventilators as part of their fire safety strategy as detailed in the Building Regulations. As a general rule, smoke ventilation will be employed to improve the life safety and means of escape if a building is more than 2,000m2 in overall floor area or has a 45 metres escape distance.
The inclusion of a mezzanine floor can further complicate the fire/smoke scenario, with escape routes and safe travel distances impeded. It is, therefore, not unusual for food stores and retail units of all sizes to have smoke ventilation systems installed in the roof.
“Rather than only being seen as something building owners must have, these systems can also, and relatively easily, be adapted to provide natural ventilation,” says Adexsi UK director Rob Davies. “this means they can also have a valuable and productive day-to-day role in the management of temperatures and indoor health and comfort conditions.”
Mr Davies says that the equipment should be tested and CE certified to EN12101-2 for smoke ventilation and for its secondary purpose as a natural ventilation system. Good quality smoke ventilation products, such as the Certilam Natural Smoke and Heat Exhaust Ventilator (NSHEV) from Adexsi UK, can be adapted to respond to given climatic conditions including temperature, light levels, wind, rain, and concentrations of CO2.
A comparatively simple addition to the control strategy will instruct the system to purge the occupied areas of warm stale air under certain conditions.  One major benefit of this approach is that the end user gains natural ventilation at no additional energy penalty and only a small extra capital cost.
“Rising summer temperatures and more extreme winter weather events are increasingly regular features of the UK climate. This means more innovative strategies for dealing with overheating and air quality are clearly going to be needed,” says Mr Davies.
“As smoke ventilation systems are already a requirement for many facilities, it seems sensible to at least investigate their further use for this purpose before embarking on other potentially more costly solutions.”