The importance of infiltration pathways in assessing and modelling overheating risks in multi-residential buildings

Robert S McLeod, Michael Swainson, Christina J Hopfe*, Kostas Mourkos, Chris Goodier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the help of building diagnostics, the causes and solutions to complex problems in buildings can be determined. In central and greater London, an increasing number of cases of chronic, year-round, overheating in buildings have been reported. We present three cases of unexpected temperatures in multi-storey residential buildings. Detailed analysis and modelling of these scenarios have led to an investigation of whether the way in which infiltration is currently modelled in building performance simulation may be exerting a pronounced effect on the results of overheating studies. An EnergyPlus model, of one of the dwellings in a multi-residential building in London, was created to investigate the influence of infiltration and exfiltration pathway assumptions on the prediction of overheating. The simulation results were compared to empirical data and show that the predicted indoor temperatures are highly sensitive to how the infiltration airflow network is modelled. The findings of this study have been used to provide practical guidance for modellers and building designers on critical aspects to consider when creating building performance simulation models to ensure more reliable outcomes. Practical application : Overheating in buildings is an emerging topic of critical importance to the future of the built environment. The importance of understanding infiltration pathways in assessing and modelling overheating risks in flats and multi-residential buildings has been hitherto underestimated or simply ignored. In this paper, examples are given which highlight the need for a fuller understanding of internal air movement where accurate predictions of internal temperatures are required. At present, common building simulation practices and existing technical memorandum (TM) standards are masking the problem and do not provide a basis from which typical or worst-case scenarios can be adequately considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-279
Number of pages19
JournalBuilding Services Engineering Research and Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The importance of infiltration pathways in assessing and modelling overheating risks in multi-residential buildings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this